Recently I attended a mentorship workshop for graduate students who are mentoring undergraduates in research. One suggestion was creating a mentoring “contract” where mentors and mentees can discuss their expectations openly and figure out what works best for their relationship. I think getting everyone on the same page from the get-go is a great idea, so I modified an example from the workshop and came up with this:
The purpose of this “contract” isn’t to create a list of obligations for each of us. This is a way to negotiate healthy boundaries and make our expectations clear. Our relationship will be unique, as is any relationship, so this is just a starting point for discussion. Please raise your own questions and concerns throughout the internship. You can talk to me about anything – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and I will strive to be the best mentor possible.
- What are your research goals and personal goals in this internship (and beyond)?
- What are my research goals and personal goals in this internship (and beyond)?
- What is a reasonable timeline for these goals?
- How will we help each other strive towards these goals?
- What are your expectations for your role and my role?
- What are my expectations for my role and your role?
- What are our preferred means of communication?
- What is a reasonable timeline for communication?
- How available should we be in the lab and outside the lab?
- How do we record research progress, questions, and any problems that arise?
- When are we both going to be present at lab?
- When are we both going to be available at lab?
- Are lab hours strict or flexible?
- Are there times when we’re definitely unavailable?
- What does “professionalism” mean, in the context of our mentor-mentee relationship?
- What does “professionalism” mean, in the context of our lab?
Concerns and Resources
- What concerns do you have about being a mentee?
- What concerns do I have about being a mentor?
- What resources are available to you when I’m not available?
- What resources are available to me?