Students Staff

Being a postgraduate mentor

The role of a mentor is ideal if you're looking to volunteer and get great experience to add to your CV. We provide full training and organise catch ups to discuss how things are going.

This isn't a demanding job. Mentors normally take about 30 minutes per week to reply to messages so your studies wouldn't be affected. However, if you wish to take a break, or leave the position, you can simply change your profile status to 'busy'. We want you to feel happy and comfortable in the role at all times.

Eligibility

To become a mentor, we require you to either be:

  • a PhD student (or of equivalent level of study)
  • in your second year as a Master’s student

This is so that we can ensure you have enough experience and knowledge to reply to questions.

How to apply

If you think this role might be for you, please email pgmentor@essex.ac.uk and we can arrange a training session with you. Following the training session, there is no obligation to become a mentor.

As a mentor on the Ask a Postgraduate Student scheme, details about your academic background and the department you're in will be available online so students can find a mentor with the relevant knowledge to answer their questions.

A student may contact you because:

  • you're in the same department
  • you have experience of the stage of study that the student wants to ask about
  • you have other detailed information on your profile that the student wants to ask about, eg your experience of being a part-time student

Popular questions you may be asked

For many students, the first few weeks will be the time when they have the most questions and will benefit from the opportunity to discuss issues with a mentor. It's also likely that they will have questions as they approach the different stages of their studies, for example, when preparing a dissertation if they are a Masters student or when they are entering Completion as a PhD student. The scheme has been set up to have the flexibility to accommodate the different stages and challenges of postgraduate study.

Your role

  • Be a point of contact for questions about University life.
  • Be a point of contact for questions about studying at postgraduate level.
  • Share study skill tips and direct students to resources.
  • Listen to and discuss any relevant issues or problems.
  • Refer on to other sources of help or information.
  • Act as a positive role model, adhering to all regulations in the Code of Student Conduct.

Mentors aren't expected to:

  • act as a counsellor, therapist or careers adviser, there are other people trained in these roles
  • offer specific academic advice or help with coursework (please don't proof-read or edit your mentees' work)
  • let this role interfere with your own studies and other commitments

Some dos and don'ts for mentors

  • Some dos


    • Discuss any problems with the Postgraduate Peer Mentoring Team.
    • Be friendly, welcoming and open.
    • Listen to your mentee(s).
    • Be respectful of their values and beliefs, being aware that their views and values may differ from yours.
    • Take what your mentee(s) says / emails seriously.
    • Treat your mentee(s) as an equal, don’t patronise.
    • Keep all online communication friendly but professional.
    • If you're not able to answer a question, escalate it to the Postgraduate Mentoring Team by pressing the button 'report this conversation to a scheme co-ordinator' in your inbox.
    • Respond to queries within five days.
    • If you will be unable to respond to queries for more than five days, change your profile status to 'busy' on the main dashboard.
    • Consider carefully before exchanging telephone numbers with your mentee(s) - this isn' something that we recommend.
    • If you meet up, meet in a public place on campus, in a place where you both feel comfortable.
    • Think about the time of day that you'e responding before you reply to a student (eg what could be the implications if you email them after 10.00pm).Consider what your boundaries should be.

  • Some don'ts


    • “Friend” your mentee(s) on Facebook. (You can message them via Facebook or communicate via your department’s Facebook page, but check your privacy settings).
    • Use Twitter to communicate with your mentee(s).
    • Lend money.
    • Involve your mentee(s) in your own personal issues.
    • Gossip about your mentee(s). You might need to discuss information with the Postgraduate Peer Mentoring Team, but in general information should be kept confidential.
    • Save any confidential material on your computer.
    • Try to tackle issues that you are not trained to deal with.
    • Tell your mentee(s) what to do.
    • Plagiarise or commit any other academic offence.

Mentoring guide

  • Guide for mentors

    Adobe PDF
    (133kb)

    Read our guide for more information and support.