Building Mentorship Skills for Academic Careers

Graduate Student Eugene Law leads a small group discussion about mentoring strategies

In this series of interactive workshops designed for current Cornell graduate students and postdocs and open to those in all fields, you will develop essential research mentoring skills, particularly in disciplines where research is conducted collaboratively and in teams. Effective mentoring of student research is a key skill influencing everything from research productivity to motivation. Learn best practices for mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers, and develop planning and communication skills needed to guide individual mentees and research teams.

  • 2024 Days and Times: Tentatively Tuesdays from 2-4 pm ET on February 6 and 20, March 5 and 19, and April 2, 2024
  • Format / Location: Primarily offered as interactive workshops and breakout discussions involving case studies. with supporting materials available in a Canvas site. Hybrid capability may be available for participants who are not in Ithaca.
  • Contact: Dr. Colleen McLinn, or 607-255-2030
  • Registration for Spring 2024 opening in Fall 2023

Interested participants should apply prior to the start of the series with the expectation of attending all workshops and actively participating in small and large group discussions. Please advise the organizers of any dates you would need to miss or arrive late, and accessibility needs at registration or prior to the first session. Building Mentorship Skills program completion certificates will be provided for fully participating in at least 4 of 5 sessions).

Spring 2023 Series

Most sessions met between 3:00 – 4:30 pm ET on Thursdays, with one session on a Tuesday and primarily in-person with hybrid capabilities. The priority registration date was March 21, 2023 to ensure space in the program.

March 23 – What Makes a Good Mentor and Mentee? Exploring Learning, Motivation, and Values

  • Understand key principles of learning and theories of motivation that can help you build a strong research group, and even learn more about yourself and values you wish to communicate to mentees.
  • Thursday, March 23, 2023 from 3:00-4:30 pm ET
  • Meets remotely by Zoom

April 13 – Aligning Expectations and Guiding Doable Projects

  • How do you design a doable project with a defined timespan for a relative novice in your discipline? Learn how to set expectations for mentor and mentee to make sure the project and relationship stay on track.
  • Thursday, April 13, 2023 from 3:00-4:30 pm ET
  • Meets remotely by Zoom

April 20 – Creating Inclusive Research Settings

  • Create and sustain a research group and academic climate in which each individual feels safe and supported. We will discuss how to create a welcoming environment for groups typically underrepresented in higher education, while reflecting on our own identities and experiences and how they may be strengths or blind spots in our mentoring.
  • Thursday, April 20, 2023 from 3:00-4:30 pm ET
  • Meets remotely by Zoom

April 25 – Handling Tricky Mentoring Situations

NOTE: Meets on a Tuesday this week, primarily in person
  • Learn how to address some of the trickiest situations you might encounter when mentoring undergraduate researchers or graduate students, from modeling appropriate research ethics to sharing co-advised students. We will also discuss how you might solicit feedback and turn around projects that aren’t going as planned (from the mentor’s perspective).
  • Tuesday, April 25, 2023 from 3:00-4:30 pm ET
  • Primarily in person with hybrid capability

May 11 – Supporting Mentees’ Professional Development

Helping Students Present and Publish, and Writing Fair Letters of Recommendation
  • Revisit some key ideas about effective communication to introduce your students to writing about and presenting their work. Learn how to write a fair letter of recommendation, and what not to say. Reflect on our emerging mentoring philosophies and goal statements.
  • Thursday, May 11, 2023 from 3:00-4:30 pm ET
  • Meets remotely by Zoom

More Information

The Building Mentorship Skills for Academic Careers certificate program is sponsored by the Graduate School’s Future Faculty and Academic Careers office, and based on a highly regarded national curriculum. A similar course is offered in online, synchronous format through the CIRTL Network periodically. A compressed three-session version has been offered in the past for existing Cornell groups or units (e.g., Geneva AgriTech) who can confirm interest from 15 or more participants. Please inquire with for more information.

Related Past Events

Research Mentoring Strategies for a Rewarding Summer

Took place: Thursday, June 9, 2022 from 10:00-11:30 am ET
701 Clark Hall
Box lunches available to go afterwards

Registration and logistics questions: Contact Nev Singhota, nks5
Program content questions: 
Contact Colleen McLinn, cmm252

Presenter: Dr. Colleen McLinn, Executive Director of Future Faculty and Academic Careers, Cornell Graduate School ( or 607-255-2030)

Join us for an interactive discussion and workshop about best practices for mentoring undergraduate researchers. We’ll use case studies and discussion prompts from the Center for Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research to explore questions such as: How can you set expectations for mentor and mentee to make sure the project and relationship stay on track? What are common challenges students face when getting started with research? How can we ensure mentees feel welcome and support their growth and confidence?

The workshop is tailored for graduate student and postdoc mentors of undergraduate researchers. However, other interested faculty/staff co-mentors are welcome to register and bring their perspectives and experiences to the discussion as well.