Mentoring is associated with a host of benefits for students from a variety of backgrounds. These benefits span both the short and long-term, and include enhanced:
- Academic performance
- Productivity and motivation
- Initial employment opportunities
- Professional identity development
- Professional confidence
- Income and promotion
- Career eminence
- Satisfaction with academic programs
- Feelings of well-being and belonging
- Interpersonal relationships.
Student focus groups at Duke suggest that student in environmental majors, minors, and certificate programs would like more mentoring and networking opportunities to connect with like-minded students, staff, and alumni. In addition, focus groups with undergraduate students currently in environmental majors suggested that Nicholas School students crave a sense of community and believed that an opt-in mentoring program could facilitate interactions between undergraduate and graduate students. They were particularly interested in mentor matching based on level and interest, and opportunities for organic bonding, such as through a flunch-like model.
What is our approach to mentoring?
The DIVE Scholars Program bases its approach to mentoring on research that investigates successful mentoring experiences for historically marginalized students. This research suggests that mentoring should incorporate academic, social, and financial best practices and include facilitated pairing of undergraduates with graduate students and alumni based on backgrounds and interests.
Our approach to mentoring has been further informed by the research of Duke undergraduate students themselves. The results of that research can be found here.
Key recommendations included:
- Pairing mentors and mentees based on personality, values, and culture. To do this, we should plan “speed dating” to facilitate natural relationships between mentors and mentees. We should also conduct bi-annual check-ins on the mentor-mentee relationship to ensure the pairings are successful.
- Fostering academic, social, and professional support. In particular, we should create a compact of clear expectations and guidelines of commitment for the program. We should also train mentors on communication skills and implicit bias. The mentors and mentees should also receive weekly top-of-mind training tips and topics.