You can also see questions from protégés at FAQ for Protégés.
FAQs – Mentors
What is MentorNet?
An online community and Web-delivered program. Our mission is to diversify the global workforce by helping students and postdocs at the university level - especially women and underrepresented minorities - succeed by matching them with mentors and guiding their one-on-one relationships over the Web.
How do you meet your mission?
We match protégés with mentors and guide their relationship. We support you, the mentor, as you encourage younger talent, help them overcome hurdles, and receive your wisdom and experience about the real world of the careers they aspire to. The outcome is that our protégés persist– 95% graduate or go to the next level - and fill the pipeline with their diverse talent.
We also give both you and your protégé a profile based on the information you shared with us when signing up. This creates a community – a social network -- of professionals and aspiring future professionals in the field who are serious about their careers
What is a mentor?
A mentor is partly a coach, leader, advisor, counselor, teacher, guide, and friend but none of these alone or completely. The original Mentor was the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, who came to Earth as a man to guide Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.
We’ve designed MentorNet to support you as you share your wisdom and experience with someone who aspires to a career in sciences, engineering and other technical fields.
Who pays for the program?
We are free to mentors and protégés. We are a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in California formed in 1997. We are funded by fees from our campus, corporate, laboratory and society partners and by grants from public and private foundations.
Do I have to be employed by a sponsoring company to be a mentor?
No. About half of our mentors are volunteers without affiliation with one of our sponsors.
How can I get my employer or professional society involved?
Please direct them to our home page and ask them to click “LEARN MORE” or urge them to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the benefits to my employer?
Corporations and societies that sponsor us
- Get a presence on 100+ campuses
- Get administrative tools that enable them to promote and track the program company wide, even globally
- Get recognition for promoting the careers of women and others underrepresented in engineering and science
- Get preferential matching for their mentor
How can I get other mentors involved?
Please direct them to our web site at www.mentornet.net/mentor .
Do I have to have a certain degree in any particular field to be a mentor?
No. Although the majority of our protégés are looking for mentors in one of the 70 science and technology fields we explicitly cover, we have professionals from all fields serving as mentors. MentorNet hopes to expose students to the breadth of career opportunities available to them. Sharing your experiences and your career path could be very informative to your protégé no matter what path you took and what your title is now.
15 minutes a week. We know because we’ve asked our 54,000+ mentors and protégés. The actual reported average is 14.8 minutes.
You will receive one or more short surveys during the program and at the end of your mentoring relationship as part of our ongoing effort to improve our program. These are voluntary and we protect the privacy and anonymity of your responses.
Is MentorNet restricted to certain kinds of people?
Everyone is welcome. Our protégés and mentors are men and women from all walks of life, ethnic groups, races, over 80 nationalities, and cultures, and range in age from 18 up. MentorNet was originally developed in 1997 to support women who still are underrepresented in many engineering, science, and mathematics fields. We more recently expanded the program to address the needs of minorities. Now some campuses open it to every eligible student while others direct the program to give real world knowledge and career counseling to specific groups of students, as they see fit. See our Policy below.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
MentorNet only requires that you have at least a college degree, three years professional experience in engineering in the profession, and you’re able to provide a reference who can verify your identity.
How does the e-mentoring program work?
-   1. Fill out a Mentor Profile
-   2. Wait for a match!
-   3. Confirm your availability
Once you've been matched, you will receive an email notice. From that point, you have 10 days to return to the MentorNet web site and confirm your availability.
-   4. Exchange communications
Once you have confirmed your availability, the e-mentoring relationship begins immediately. You can view your protégé's profile, and they have access to see your profile as well.
Both you and your protégé will begin receiving regular discussion suggestions from the MentorNet program that will help you start and build the relationship.
How are matches made?
Magic. No really, through an ever-improving algorithm that takes into account your preferences in a protégé, the protégés preferences in a mentor, and other factors.
You ask for a lot of information when I create my profile.
Yes. That’s to both help make a better match to a mentor and to help fill out your profile.
Is all my information private?
Yes. Everything on your profile is under your control – what to show or not, who you put in your network – and can be changed at any time. We also protect all the information we gather and do not publish or share it without your permission.
Is my relationship with my protégé private?
Yes. We hope you will put your mentor on your own profile page. But if you choose not to, no one will know who you are matched. In any case, no one can or will look in on your emails or phone conversations if you choose to have them.
If you are sponsored by a corporation or organization, the program administrator will be able to see your info as well as the campus, major and demographics of the student, but not his/her name or contact info.
What does it take to be a good mentor?
Be flexible, take the initiative, and be responsive. Have confidence that you have precious experiences to communicate, and know a little bit of encouragement from you will go a long way to helping your protégé.
Remember what it was like when you were in your protégé's position. Realize that s/he may not understand many of the cultural norms and formalities of business and email interaction that you take for granted, especially in this age of text and instant messaging.
Take the initiative on discussions. Feel free to share your personal experiences, pose questions, and engage in small talk until a relevant topic for discussion emerges.
Be responsive to your protégé's questions and comments. If you do not have the time to offer a full response shortly after you receive an email message, send a short message letting her/him know you will be in contact when you have the opportunity.
Is everyone matched?
Unfortunately, no. While we do all we can to find appropriate matches for everyone, the pools of available mentors and interested protégés do not always match perfectly and we are unable to match everyone who is interested in participating.
How long does it take to be matched?
In these days of instant gratification over the Web, MentorNet may demand a lot of patience. Mentors may wait 21 days or more for a protégé to select them.
If you are not matched in the One-on-One E-Mentoring Program, you can still provide and/or receive mentoring through our other discussion groups.
Why do protégés choose their match when I’m the one volunteering my time?
We are very grateful for your generosity. Without your volunteerism none of this would work. Over time, though, we’ve learned that the protégé, who tends to be younger and more distractible, needs to feel ownership of the relationship. This adds to their commitment and follow-through.
How can I get my colleagues involved?
If you are interested in letting your colleagues know about volunteering as a mentor with MentorNet, there are four ways to do so:
-   1. Talk to them about your experience and its rewards.
-   2. Send them to www.MentorNet.net/mentor.
-   3. Send them our 'Call for Mentors' email message. Copy and paste it directly into an email message.
-   4. Share our mentor brochures with them. Send your request to email@example.com and ask us to send some to you!
If you are specifically interested in recruiting faculty members as mentors, you will find specialized materials here.
I've signed up, but I can no longer commit to be a mentor. What should I do?
If you are still waiting for a match, sign into your MentorNet community account, select the 'My Profiles' tab and change your 'Profile Status' from active to hidden. You also have the option of deleting your mentor profile completely.
If you are currently matched, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know so that we can unmatch you.
I've Been Matched – Now What?
- The guided One-on-One relationship is at the heart of our successful relationships. MentorNet sends out emails to both mentors and protégés with discussion suggestions and topics over a period of 8 months.
- MentorNet provides online mentoring guides and training tutorials for both mentors and protégés.
- If you encounter any problem or obstacle – for instance, a non-responsive partner – we will help you troubleshoot and try to resolve the issue. Please contact email@example.com.
Do I initiate contact?
Once you receive the welcome and introduction e-mail from the MentorNet program, reach out to your protégé. We encourage your protégé to send you an email as well.
Can I have more than one protégé?
Yes. If you'd like to have more than one protégé, you can do so by logging into your MentorNet Community Account. Select the 'My Profiles' tab and change your 'Profile Status' from “hidden” to “active.”
Can I get re-matched with my previous protégé?
- Yes communicate with your protégé and then both of you go back, activate your match request, and request each other by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I have to follow the program?
Our prompts are just suggestions. You can take your relationship anywhere you want. We hope you set your own goals and expectations for the relationship with your protégé.
What happens if my relationship with my protege doesn’t work out?
It happens. For all sorts of reasons. Don’t worry. Email us at email@example.com and let us know the problem. We can unmatch you and then you can find another protege if you wish.
Can I turn off the weekly/twice monthly discussion suggestions?
-   1. Log into your MentorNet community account, select the 'One-on-One Mentoring' tab.
-   2. Select the first link, 'Match Information.'
-   3. Directly below your protégé's profile is a link that allows you to stop receiving discussion suggestions.
Do mentors and protégés ever meet?
Absolutely. The picture on our home page is of just such a meeting. We love it very much.
However, many mentors and protégés will never meet face-to-face because they’re on opposite sides of the continent or world.
We will say this: when face-to-face meetings happen they almost always seem to have a very positive outcome and can be very gratifying, even moving.
Do we have to only use email to communicate within the mentoring relationship?
There is no reason that the relationship must be limited to email. If both mentor and protégé agree to communicate by other means (phone, IM, in person, etc.) we encourage them to do so. The most important point is that the parties remain in regular contact with each other.
What should I do if I'm having problems with my protégé (haven't heard from her/him, questions that I cannot answer, etc.)?
It is not unusual for problems to occur, so don't feel badly. Please just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know what is going on and we will try to help!
How are protégés recruited to participate?
Protégés are recruited through our campus representatives who get the word out through email, by putting up posters or flyers, by visiting meetings of students chapters of professional societies, and by encouraging faculty to let students know about the opportunity. Protégés also learn about MentorNet through our Facebook and Twitter channels, or word of mouth.
Legal announcement of our equal opportunity policy
MentorNet is an equal opportunity organization. MentorNet will not discriminate against any program participant because of race, color, religion, creed, age, sex, national origin (including, without limitation, those for whom English is a second language or those who are immigrants), ancestry, physical or mental disability (including learning disabilities), past history of mental disorder, medical condition including pregnancy, family care leave, cancer and AIDS, status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the wars including Vietnam, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other non-program related factor. Program participation is based on eligibility and will not be unlawfully influenced or unlawfully affected by the characteristics of any program applicant or participant. MentorNet will take affirmative action to ensure that program applicants are considered for participation in the program, and program participants are treated during their participation in the program, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, national origin or any other non-program related factor. Such action will include, but will not be limited to: participation as a member of the MentorNet Community, creating a mentor or protégé profile, being matched in the One-on-One E-Mentoring Program and participation in the E-Forum.