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Mentor FAQ

For more information on the Alumni Mentor Program, please contact:

Ellen Konkle
Associate Director of Alumni Relations

Email: Office Phone: (814) 571-0576

Lauren Granese
Student and Alumni Relations Coordinator

Office Phone: (814) 865-1070


What kinds of things are we supposed to do with our student?

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There’s a tremendous variety of things to do around the professional development theme. A few examples are listed on the info page. So, for example, after your student has filled out a career interest inventory and e-mailed you the results, you could schedule a phone meeting to talk about it—give them your insights and interpretations. Encourage your student to sign up for a résumé-writing workshop at Career Services, and again, have them send the draft to you for feedback and edits. Arrange for your student to shadow you at your worksite for a day or several days, or arrange for your student to visit with colleagues.

What if the student needs guidance in an area in which I’m not familiar, or knowledgeable?

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There are many resources available to both you and the student, through the College of the Liberal Arts and Penn State Career Services as well as the greater Liberal Arts Alumni Society. If you need assistance at any time in the program, contact the program manager who will direct you to a resource that can support your needs.

What’s the preferred way for mentors and students to contact each other?

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You will decide on a method of communication with your student when you meet. Many pairs communicate via e-mail and/or telephone. You may decide to meet your student at your workplace during the course of the program. The preferred method of contact is whatever works best for you and your student.

How often am I expected to be in contact with my student?

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Students and mentors are expected to communicate regularly in order to meet the goals they set at the beginning of the program. While the actual number of times that you are in contact with your student is your decision, you should communicate with them at least once a month in order to reach your goals. You will probably find it helpful to be in contact more often however.

What’s the general time commitment over the course of the program year?

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This somewhat depends on the quality of the relationship you establish with your student. A once- or twice-a-month phone call is a good starting point. Again, you may find that traveling to campus after the kickoff, having the student job-shadow you at work, or other experiential learning opportunities make sense and would require additional time.

How do I establish goals with the student?

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You will establish goals with your student after your second or third meeting. While establishing goals, try to help your student figure out how they can best benefit from the program—from time in consultation with you. Consider things that you believe will be helpful for your student to know before they graduate. If you have trouble coming up with goals, check out the list of examples on the website such as résumé and cover letter writing.

What’s covered at the kickoff?

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One of the key ingredients to the mentor program is the kickoff. Other student–alumni mentor programs that base the relationship on someone initiating a phone call or meeting via e-mail just don’t work, as well. At the kickoff you will meet your student in a casual, social setting, and you will meet other alumni and students as well. The program will address expectations, provide information on what’s available to students through Penn State Career Services, provide guidance on establishing goals and next steps with your student, describe the evaluation and feedback process, and answer common questions. Most important, the kickoff will end with each mentor–student pair agreeing to next steps.

Can I still participate if I can’t attend the kickoff?

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Yes. It is essential that you meet your student in person early in the mentorship and work with him or her to develop individual goals for the program. If you cannot attend the kickoff, an alternative meeting time will be arranged.

If my student and I really hit if off, do we continue next year?

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Yes. Mentorships typically last until the student graduates. If you really hit it off with your student, the two of you may decide to informally continue your relationship after that.

Are mentors assigned more than one student?

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Only if the alum wants to mentor more than one student at a time.

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