Essential Elements of Effective Mentor Relationships

Essential Elements of Effective Mentor Relationships

Based on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) mentorship model, below are elements of an effective mentorship relationship.

Based on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) mentorship model, below are elements of an effective mentorship relationship.

Substantive Feedback

Provide substantive and honest feedback in a nurturing and supportive way.

Professional Development

With respect to professional development, please think in terms of helping your mentee build the six core competencies in the GradFUTURES model.

Emotional Support

Emotional support cannot be understated. Establishing trust in the relationship is a critical step in the mentorship process. This also comes when candidly sharing your own stories of resilience and failure.

Role Model

Reflect as to how you'd like to serve as a role model for your mentee in modeling the professional behaviors, styles of communication, or etiquette customary in your industry or field. 


Access to Opportunities and Sponsorship

Help your graduate student build social capital by providing them with access to opportunities and one’s own professional network.

Intellectual Community

Becoming part of and feeling accepted by one’s intellectual community is part of a broader sense of belonging that facilitates the mutual exchange of ideas.


There should be mutual accountability to the relationship and to fostering the personal and professional growth of your mentee.

The Power of Storytelling

We are fortunate to have partnered with so many alumni this year as speakers and presenters, including Carol Barash, who is the founder of Story2, a platform that teaches the individuals to tap into the proven power and science behind storytelling. Carol offers weekly virtual storytelling circles for graduate students and shares with students the neuroscience behind storytelling, and how it helps individuals to feel deeper and more meaningful connections with one another. As a mentor, your stories will have a similar powerful impact on the learning and development of your mentee. It can be referred to as the 3Ps, sharing at different levels depending what it feels comfortable within the context of the conversion, your personal story, your Princeton story, and your professional story. 

Your Personal Story
  • What were some of the family influences that may have impacted your early decisions?
  • Did you have a mentor, what was your undergraduate experience like?
  • Sharing how you might balance personal and professional life, and how you tackle personal or professional challenges.
  • What might you do differently if you had the chance to do it all again? 
Your Princeton story
  • What was your graduate student experience like?
  • In what way did your relationship with your advisor influence your experience?
  • What were some of the highlights and challenges at your time in Princeton?
  • Did you participate in any student leadership or community building activities? 
Your Professional Story
  • How did you become interested in your field?
  • Describing your transition into the professional world after graduate school and any challenges you encountered?
  • What were the core competencies that have been the hallmarks of your success?
  • What are some of the hardest lessons learned, specifically those learned through failure? 

Again, next to your story and advice, one of the best gifts you can give to your mentee is your connections. Introducing your mentee to colleges or other alumni contacts is a way to broaden their circle. Also talk to your mentee about professional associations, networking groups, or other affiliations within your field. Guide you mentee in professional etiquette and how to conduct effective informational interviews. These are all the many ways that you can share your personal, professional and Princeton stories.