Guidance on being a mentor

Guidance on being a mentor

Mentors can decide the level of their involvement – it does not have to be long-term or onerous. It can be as simple as dropping into a school/college to kick start and inspire students at the start of a project related to their career, all the way up to taking on a work experience placement student – the choice is yours!

As a mentor you may help introduce young people to an area of STEM they might not normally have access to, help them understand good project processes, and hopefully open a window into what working in STEM can be like. If you are a mentor, your role is generally to act as a sounding-board for students and the content of their project

No two projects are ever the same, and so the mentor role within each project may also be different. You could: 
  • Inspire the students with a talk or help set a challenge at the start
  • Suggest topics for students to research. If they get stuck you can suggest relevant articles or papers to students, with the expectation that they use these as starting point for further research.
  • Provide expert information or be a point of access for specialist knowledge or techniques by dropping into an already on-going project
  • Help students develop their ideas or guide them as they examine their results 
  • Provide or help arrange relevant work experience or an industrial visit to your place of work.
  • Provide feedback on project methodologies.
  • Provide alternative method suggestions for carrying out a project.
  • Suggest ways to analyse and present any data collected
  • Provide guidance on how to use a consistent referencing style.
Not all of these will be necessary for every project - it will depend on the students' and the project they've chosen.

The level of involvement for mentors can vary considerably - from having an email correspondence with students and their teachers, to a few skype calls or in person meetings, or even supervising students activities throughout the project.

As such, the time commitment can range from a couple of hours to tens of hours.

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