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Student Mentoring Program Guidelines

The goals of the Student-Alumni Mentoring Program are to provide a fulfilling opportunity for students to learn about career paths, professional fields, and educational options from alumni working in their field of interest and to provide a fulfilling opportunity for alumni to be involved with the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences by sharing their knowledge and experience with our students.

A good way to begin your mentorship experience is by getting acquainted with your mentor. Ask questions about your mentor’s professional journey to learn what has helped to make him or her successful. If you feel comfortable, you may also want to learn about him or her as an individual (i.e. their likes/dislikes).

Don’t worry if you feel nervous about communicating with your mentor. Remember that your mentor is there to answer your questions, give you advice, and help you better understand your field of interest and how you can reach your educational and career goals. Mentors volunteer for this program because they want to support you.

  • Why did you choose Penn State?
  • If you were a Penn State student again, what would you do differently?
  • What was your first job out of college and how did you get it?
  • What trade-offs have you made in balancing work and family as your career has developed?
  • What is a typical work day for you?
  • What aspects of your job take the most time? Or surprisingly little time?
  • What do you like most or find most interesting about your work?
  • What do you like least about your job?
  • What kinds of problems do you face? Find most difficult?
  • What skills/abilities are most important in your work?
  • What are your hobbies, outside interests, volunteer activities, etc.?
  • Review your résumé and cover letter together.
  • Role-play telephone skills in anticipation of phone interviews.
  • Conduct a mock interview.
  • Research summer jobs and internships and identify targeted organizations.
  • Shadow your mentor for a day. Observe client, staff, or strategy meetings.
  • Participate in a business meal.
  • Keep a mentorship journal to record details of meetings, significant events, accomplishments and insights.
  • Discuss current events.
  • Discuss a “case study” relating to your mentor’s work or professional development issues.
  • Look for opportunities to grow and develop by asking for feedback, reflecting on experiences, and developing new skills and abilities.
  • Maintain a clear sense of where you are going and track progress along the way.
  • Openly discuss goals, challenges, and concerns with your mentor and inform him or her of progress made.
  • Plan a joint meeting between you, your mentor, and your academic advisor. Propose an agenda and topics to discuss on your academic plans and progress so far.
  • Discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Effective communication is essential to healthy relationships and a mentorship is no exception. Be professional in all of your communications.
  • Decide upon a preferred method of communication with the alumni mentor. Choose a method of communication that is convenient for both of you and that you will both use regularly. It is frustrating to send someone an email and not receive a reply; these problems can be avoided by discussing this at the outset.
  • Complete the “goal setting” sheet in the handbook together. This will allow you to share your expectations with the mentor, discover the mentor’s expectations, and set Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time-bound (SMART) goals and action steps that will meet or exceed these expectations.
  • If you haven’t heard from the mentor, contact him or her. You don’t need to wait for the mentor to contact you first. Feel free to ask the mentor what is occurring in their professional life and activities. You may also wish to contact the mentors with items of interest to him or her, including current issues or events on campus or in the College, or opportunities for the mentor to learn more about your interests.
  • This program is not designed to provide you with jobs or internships. The program seeks to enhance your career and self-awareness so that you are better equipped to find internships and jobs that match your goals and interests in the future.
  • The mentoring partnership is designed to last for one academic year. We understand, however, that some partnerships will last longer than others. We have done our best to match you with alumni based on the information provided in the applications, but sometimes two people just do not “click” in their mentoring relationship. Please note this is not considered a failure on either part, and that participants should feel free to contact Colleen Swetland (clw2@psu.edu) to discuss the situation and bring closure to the relationship, if needed.  In addition, if you are still an undergraduate at Penn State after the academic year, you will have the option to stay in the program and pair with a new mentor, or even keep the one you have now if the relationship is working well.

More Information

Colleen Swetland 814-863-4667 Email: clw2@psu.edu.

Student Handbook

Download Student Mentoring Handbook