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Mentor Handbook


This handbook has been provided to assist the mentor and student in developing a successful mentoring relationship. This is not easily done, that is to say, it will take effort by both the mentor and student to make the process work. The effort you put in will be worth it and it is our hope that your relationship will last beyond graduation day.

Mentoring Process

Mentoring is pre-job training. It provides training in goal setting and achievement, self-evaluation and improvement, interpersonal accountability, as well as close interaction with a “supervisor.”

Successful mentoring relationships have one main ingredient and at least two attributes. The attributes are open communication and trust. The main ingredient is that the person being mentored has defined his/her desired result(s) from the mentoring relationship.

In the previous sections under “Roles and Responsibilities” and “Guidelines for Students” and “Guidelines for Mentors”, a significant amount of information important to this process has been provided. It is strongly recommended that both the mentor and student begin their trust portion of their relationship with making and keeping the commitment of reading this information. Continue to reinforce the trust portion of your relationship in all that you do as you move forward in mentoring.

With regard to open communication, always remember that you have twice as many ears as you have mouths – your communication should reflect that fact. As the more senior partner in this relationship, the mentor needs to be aware and to enforce that neither party monopolizes the conversation – listening is crucial for open communication and trust. Through good listening, the mentor can hear other issues that need to be discussed that are not currently on action plan.

Action Planning is the suggested methodology to guide the relationship. There are, of course, other equally effective methodologies which can be utilized if desired. The attached Action Plan Form is provide for your consideration.

Action Plans

Start with a mentor-led conversation on the student’s goals in this mentoring relationship. Discuss the student’s ideas with the intent to help refine the goals. The goals should be realistic and measureable and achievable. A time line should be established; break down the goals as appropriate – see the example on the Student-Mentor Action Plan form.

Consider the following suggestions:

  • Start with 2 or 3 objectives, make a plan and start work on it.
  • When the first several goals are achieved, develop another list, make a plan, and execute the plan. Avoid making a long list of goals that will take multiple months to accomplish – keep the list of goals manageable so that progress can be made.
  • Depending on the student’s year at PSU, the possible goals can varying significantly. The following list is to spark ideas of possible goals.
    • Course selection
    • Career direction
    • Résumé improvement
    • Interviewing skills
    • What should I expect when I start work and how can I prepare for it?
    • How do I decide between job offers?
    • How do I decide which firms to contact for an interview?
    • Should I pursue a master’s degree?
    • Should I pursue my PE? What is the process?

Outside Resources

As part of the mentoring process, the mentor should be encouraging the student to read articles relating to life after graduation. These articles or books should be selected to assist the student in broadening their knowledge base to equip them for the demands of their profession. At the following link are a selection of articles for consideration. [Link to Mentoring Resources]

Mentoring assistance and/or advice can be obtained by contacting Willis Heisey.



The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084