Creating Your Mentoring Network

A mentoring network is your group of mentors. When you are considering a major career or life decision, having a group of mentors that share their thoughts and advice is critical. Often we start mentoring relationships but do not always keep them active. One mentoring relationship I have kept active for over 10 years is with my master’s advisor. I took her biomaterials class in 2006 and since then have kept in touch through email and phone conversations.

How to Keep the Mentors You Have

If you already have mentors, it is important to keep in contact with them. Most mentors are understanding that you are busy and will email or call when you want to talk. It’s good to email them every 3-6 months with an update on your career and if you are comfortable, your personal life. My emails generally talk about my current job, if I am considering a switch in careers and an update about my daughter who just turned one. Consider the mentors you have now, when was the last time you contacted them?

What Types of Mentors Do You Need

For the mentors you already have, what are their careers? Are you considering a career move soon, going to graduate school or moving somewhere else?

If you find you have a lack of mentors in the career path you are interested in, it’s time to find new mentors. Recently, I am deciding if I want to stay in industry or pursue an assistant professor job. It became clear that those paths require different mentors.

How to Find Mentors

Finding mentors can be difficult. There are programs you can enroll in. I have found success in meeting mentors through classes, research, events, etc.  GradSWE has a mentoring program, if you are interested, find the links below to join. You can reach out to people within your network.  You can network and find new mentors. See the link below to a blog post about how to network.

How Many Mentors Do You Need

The number of mentors each person needs can vary. Currently, I have 25 mentors that cover academia (10), industry (10), retired and other (5).  You can really have mentors that span any industry, age, demographic, etc. I also include in that total, peer mentors that are similar in age but also have great advice. One of my mentors is retired and she was extremely successful in the business sector. Her field is very different from my own, but she gives great advice about work/life balance and working in a male-dominated field. So how many mentors do you really need? You want enough diverse mentors to give you a good sampling of careers and feedback, however not too many that you cannot maintain the relationships.

Attending WE17? – Check out these events

  • SWE Mentoring Session Thursday, October 26th 4:30-5:30 PM (ACC –  Room 7)
  • GradSWE Reception Friday, October 27th 5-6:30 PM (MARR – Brazos)
  • GradSWE Mentoring Meet-up 6:30-?? (Meet at MARR-Brazos)


Networking Where to Start

GradSWE Mentoring Program

For Mentors:

For proteges:


One thought on “Creating Your Mentoring Network

  1. Pingback: The Great Debate: Academia or Industry | Life, STEM and the pursuit of balance

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