Cultivating quality mentoring relationships is an essential component of career preparation for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Mentoring is also a critical component to advancement to candidacy and degree completion. Mentors provide important support, guidance and advice to the mentee, and can be a critical link between graduate training and a successful academic or research career. Mentors can be (but don’t have to be) your advisors and principal investigators. Other faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students can also serve as mentors during your career. Please read the campus policy on Mentoring and Advising for more information.
The UCI Graduate Division is committed to supporting our graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in establishing and maintaining mentor relationships. Ultimately, however, the responsibility for building a quality network of mentors lies with the mentee. Active participation and engagement on the part of the mentee makes a big difference in cultivating a strong mentoring relationship.
Mentoring is an essential component of graduate education. In general, good mentoring in all its forms involves treating students respectfully and fairly, providing reliable academic and professional guidance, and serving as a role model for upholding the highest ethical standards.
A detailed presentation of mentoring best practices is available at the UC Berkeley website.
Individual Development Plan
Being deliberate in defining your academic and career goals is essential for your future success. Having clearly defined annual goals that you can share with your advisor and mentor will help both of you stay on track and communicate effectively. The Graduate Division created the UC Irvine Individual Development Plan to help you structure your goals, identify skills and competencies that need to be developed, and maintain a record of your achievements.
Peer Mentoring – Graduate Students
Graduate students have a number of mutually beneficial opportunities to mentor fellow graduate students. Peer mentors provide a great service to their mentees while developing leadership skills that will enhance their own professional development. We encourage all graduate students to seek out fellow graduate students as peer mentors, and to serve in this capacity during their academic career. Examples of peer mentoring opportunities at UC Irvine include:
- Pedagogical Fellows Program
- Associated Graduate Student representative
- DECADE Program
- DECADE PLUS program with undergraduates
- International peer mentors
- Academic peer advising/mentoring
Many graduate students also serve as mentors to undergraduate students during their careers. In particular, Teaching and Research Assistantships provide important opportunities for mentoring undergraduates.
Peer Mentoring – Postdoctoral Scholars
Postdoctoral scholars have a number of opportunities to become peer mentors during their time at UCI. New postdocs often find support from “seasoned” postdocs in their labs. The UC Irvine Postdoctoral Association (PDA) also fosters a sense of community among postdocs, which can lead to quality peer mentoring connections. In addition, postdocs are encouraged to mentor graduate students in their labs.
Mentoring Excellence Program (MEP)
"The Mentor Excellence Program (MEP) gave me tools and resources I can use with my students, fellow graduate students, and even my family."
Effective mentoring is a crucial part of the academic experience. Mentors provide support and connect students to academic and campus resources to aid in the students’ success. To support this effort, Graduate Division has created the Mentoring Excellence Certificate Program.
The Mentoring Excellence Program (MEP) consists of six modules focusing on skills and resources related to mentorship. The Mentoring Excellence Program is intended for those who are:
- Curious about becoming a mentor
- Have prior mentor experience and want to learn about opportunities at UCI
- Current mentors who want to expand their skills
The program cultivates a qualified pool of trained mentors to support students in campus-wide initiatives including Competitive Edge, Graduate InterConnect, and the Summer Research Program. Trained mentors obtain a skill set sought after in the career marketplace both inside and outside of academia.
Modules in the program include:
- The Lifecycle of the Mentoring Relationship: This module will help mentors understand the stages of a mentoring relationship, identify techniques to build trust with mentees, and learn how to transition beyond the mentoring relationship.
- Effective Interpersonal Communication: This module will present strategies for communicating effectively with others. Mentors will learn methods to increase confidence when fostering connections with individuals.
- Ethical Issues in Academia: Ethics will be explored with a focus on resolving situations with competing interests. Mentors will learn how to navigate questionable situations, and learn how to face challenges with confidence.
- Mentoring Across Differences: Mentors will explore techniques to support mentees from different backgrounds in this module. Campus resources will be identified in addition to raising awareness of the diverse culture at UCI.
- Resilience & Conflict Resolution: Mentors will learn techniques to address and resolve conflict, how to avoid assumptions about others’ interests and motivations in a disagreement, and strategies to help mentees navigate disputes.
- Balancing Academics/Wellness: Wellness will be the focus of this module both for mentees and mentors. Participants will learn how to motivate mentees to succeed in challenging circumstances; identify strategies to balance wellness and academics in their lives and the lives of their mentees; and campus resources relevant to supporting the mentoring experience.
The Mentoring Excellence Program is offered quarterly to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Individuals who complete all six sessions receive a Certificate of Completion.
To register for the next program, interested students should complete the Interest Form.