Mentoring is one of those things that people tend to think they’re good at, even though they haven’t had any formalized training. While good intentions, effort, and kindness are important, it’s important to know about some established best practices for mentoring. We highly recommend some kind of formal mentor training.
While a formalized workshop is recommended, there are some great resources online. For example, The University of Minnesota hosts online learning modules to help you learn how to mentor more effectively. The University of Wisconsin’s Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research has a great curriculum called Entering Mentoring. The Mentoring Institute at UNM maintains a strong list of online resources.
This essay by Beronda Montgomery about cultivating individual growth (using analogies involving plants) is a great read.
This article by Emery et al. (2019) has a number of specific strategies to consider.
Here’s a model for effective mentor training in ecology and evolution by Hund et al. (2019).
If you’re trying to gain an understanding of some of the perspectives and challenges that low-income and first-gen grad students may be experiencing, this comprehensive “How to grad school while poor” website might provide some context. Also, this can be a good source of advice for students, of course.