Frequently Asked Questions for Alumni Mentors

How will I be matched with a mentee(s)?
After viewing alumni profiles in the Pathways Mentoring Program database, students may make a request through the system.  Pathways allows students to search for mentors using all the tabs in your Alumni Directory profile.   Search criteria may include geographic location, professional industry, graduate school, major, sports, alumni network group affiliation, etc.  For this reason, we encourage you to update all the tabs in your profile and not just your Pathways profile.  Once you have been requested, you must decide whether or not you would like to accept.

How will I know if I have been requested as a mentor?
You will receive an email letting you know that a student has requested you as a mentor. This email will invite you to confirm that you accept or decline the Amherst student as a mentee. If accepted, you can then expect to receive an introductory email from your student. We invite you to begin your communication with an introduction about yourself: where you work, what you do, and your professional interests.

How long will it take for me to be matched with a mentee?
Since students are responsible for making mentor match requests, it is possible that you may not be matched with a mentee right away. Further, because this program is a new initiative, at the outset, there may be unequal numbers of student and alumni participants. Over time, our hope is that this will calibrate.

What if I am not requested to be a mentor?
If you initially are not selected to be a mentor, we encourage you to keep your mentor profile active, as it is possible that you will be selected as a mentor in a future term.  By keeping your profile active, we will be able to communicate other ways in which you may engage with students.

Are there requirements for being a mentor?
The only requirement of a mentor is his or her time.  By participating in Pathways, you are committing to a minimum of two contacts with your mentee(s) each month. The length of the defined mentoring partnership is one term.

How can a mentoring partnership be extended longer than one mentoring term?
After the conclusion of a mentoring term, mentors and mentees will have a conversation evaluating the partnership.  If there is interest, continuing the partnership should be discussed.  If a mutual agreement to continue the partnership is reached, the mentee will need to go back into the system to “re-request” the mentor.  Mentoring partnerships are automatically ended at the completion of each mentoring term so the process may need to be repeated as long as there is agreement to continue.

How many mentees can I have?
A mentor can have up to two formal mentees through the system.   Formal means that they are matched in the Pathways databse.  However, as a mentoring term comes to an end, the mentoring partnership may continue in a less formal manner if both parties choose.

How many mentors can a mentee have?
Each student can have one formal mentor at a time.  Formal means that they are matched in the Pathways database.  In addition to being matched with one mentor in the system, a mentee may have many informal mentors.

What does the program expect of me?
Pathways mentor expectations include:

  • To advise students on how to successfully navigate their way through Amherst by providing support and encouragement
  • To advise your mentee(s) on career options by discussing particular fields of interest, sharing your experiences in the world of work
  • To teach your mentee(s) about the importance of networking
  • To assist mentee(s) in bridging the gap between college life and working life

What is not expected of me?
You are not expected to offer a job or internship to your mentee. Though some mentors offer job shadowing and internship opportunities when possible, it is neither an expectation nor a requirement.

How does mentoring help students?
There is research that supports the idea that most people achieve greater levels of success if they have guidance and help along the way. A mentor can be one such resource and serve as a person with whom a student discusses career plans, evaluates options and achievements, and works through disappointments.

 Mentees find that mentoring has:

  • Enhanced their career development and influenced their attitudes and professional outlook.
  • Improved outcomes by challenging assumptions.

How should I communicate with my mentee(s)?
It is up to you and your mentee(s) to decide your preferred method of contact.  We find that some mentors and mentees prefer Skype or a phone call, others rely on email, Facebook messages, or texts. While communication is fine by email, a meeting is defined as a Skype, phone call, or in-person meeting (when possible).  

Are you sure I can help a student who does not share my career interests?
Remember, that the student has selected you because of information in your profile that resonated with him or her. If your mentee requests specific career advice that you cannot offer, you might consider connecting your mentee with another Amherst alumnus/a who shares your mentee's career interest or other colleague. This will allow you to teach the importance of developing a network and prompt your mentee to build his or her network.

What should I do if my student isn’t returning my phone calls/emails?
If you are experiencing any issue related to your partnership, please send an email to Pathways@amherst.eduor call the Career Center at (413) 542-2265.

What should I do when I first meet my mentee and what should we talk about?
The initial contact can be an informal one.  This is a time to get to know each other by sharing information about significant events or people in each other’s life, likes and dislikes, and general and career interests. It is also a good time to discuss goals and expectations and complete a Mentoring Partnership Agreement.  In the Resources section under Helpful Forms and Guides, you will find a template for an agreement and a sample first meeting agenda.

Visit our Resources for Mentors section for information on how to approach your mentorship.

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Learn More About Becoming a Mentor