Enabling trainee learning and growth


Mentor competencies Mentor best practices Mentee competencies
Discuss with your mentees how you can best support their training and ability to succeed. Identify and offer opportunities for training, information gathering, collaboration, and networking. Self-assess your capabilities and determine areas in which you need support. Discuss a plan for filling gaps with your mentor.

Advocate constructively for your training needs.

Conduct an effective onboarding process. E.g., make sure students have access to training resources and equipment. Promote a lab dynamic that integrates newcomers into the group and helps orient them in the lab/department/institute. Seek support from your mentor and others if you are asked to do something that you don’t know how to approach.
Enable/support trainee learning and growth in experimental design, execution, troubleshooting, responsible research conduct, and mastering the literature. Foster mentee research interests, creativity, and independence. Assume responsibility, shared with your mentor, for intellectual ownership of your project and research directions.
Enable/support trainee growth in scientific writing and oral presentations. Help trainees identify and attend meetings where they can present their work. Take advantage of opportunities to practice and get feedback on your communication skills.
Enable/support trainee growth in working with others. As appropriate for their project and goals, encourage mentees to collaborate, develop relationships beyond your lab, and mentor others (e.g., a UROP or MSRP student). Take advantage of opportunities to learn from, work with, or mentor others.
Communicate the strengths and limits of what you can offer as a mentor. Connect mentees with resources for their research and/or professional development beyond your lab. Recognize the limits and strengths of what your mentor can offer, and work with your mentor (and others) to identify external training or sources of support, as necessary.


Refer to the Mentoring Resources page for supporting materials and training opportunities.

  • Student and postdoc IDP processes

Potential pitfalls for mentors

  • Belittling a trainee’s knowledge instead of offering resources to help them learn.
  • Reacting in a hostile manner if a trainee underperforms when evaluated against your expectations.
  • Only providing opportunities that align with mentees’ current strengths.
  • Expecting trainees to come to you proactively with their needs in lieu of you checking in with them.