The Research Triangle Park

7 Pieces of Advice for Being a Mentor

By Jan 13, 2015

Happy National Mentoring Month! We know that mentoring students for the first time can be a little intimidating, so for all you first-time mentors out there, we’ve compiled some words of wisdom from our partners.

1. “Remember what excited you as a child and intrigued you as a young adult about STEM. Mentoring is often a chance to rekindle the passion in those subjects that you learned about for fun before you decided to make it a career.”- Kim Gervase, Executive Director of NC Science Olympiad

2. “Be real. These students may come from tough neighborhoods and have had to deal with life circumstances unlike anything the mentor may have experienced. It’s important to speak to the students at their level, and offer encouragement and support, instead of running the risk of making them feel as if they are not smart enough or good enough to succeed.” Carver Weaver, Communications and Marketing Director at Durham Tech

3. “Try and do away with your fear of kids. They’re people. They’re just younger people. After you quench your fear, be truly authentically yourself. Don’t try to be the person that you think the kid wants you to be. They can see through you trying to be someone that you’re obviously not.” –Oscar Robles, City Networks Manager at US2020 National

4. “Show up, be enthusiastic, and you can’t lose. If you have the right passion, students can feel it. If they understand that you’re learning too—you’re all learning together—you can’t lose.” Donald McCoy, K-12 STEM Education Consultant

5. “Be curious. Have an open mind. Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers and be the expert. More importantly, you should model for kids that it’s okay to ask a question or say “I don’t know the answer, how do we find the answer?” If you go in with an open mind and be open for curiosity, you’re going to be great.” –Marie Hopper, Executive Director of NC FIRST Robotics

6. “Establish a collaborative relationship with your mentee. Have a discussion about what you both want to accomplish in the relationship, how you will communicate with one another, and how you both plan to keep commitments. Focusing on each of these areas will foster shared ownership of the relationship, creating an environment for both you and your mentee to have a positive, mutually beneficial experience.” –Atrayus Goode, Founder and CEO of Movement of Youth

7. “Give back. We’re all part of the community of Research Triangle Park that’s working to bring together all of these diverse companies in the Park and the surrounding universities—it’s important to get involved to sustain these community dynamics. We’ve all been where these students are now, and I think we can all remember a time or two (or twenty) where it would have made a difference to have someone there to motivate and encourage us. These students may be our colleagues some day; let’s begin by introducing them to the community now.” – Meaghan McGrath, US2020 Mentor