Mentor and Mentee Guide

 What to ask and talk about
Not sure how to start a conversation? Not sure what to talk about? This Mentor and Mentee Guide helps you start the mentorship process! From simple questions to discussion topics this guide can be your go-to place if you are ever unsure on what to do/discuss next.

General Guide

Every relationship has to start somewhere. Start by introducing yourself and try to find a common topic you both can relate to. Do you both have a sister or a dog? Are you both into painting or music? What do you like to do for fun? Finding something you can both relate to will help reduce the awkwardness, make all parties feel more comfortable, and break down some of the walls. When you're ready to talk more STEM try some of the questions and topics below!

Mentor Guide

  • Introduce yourself! Where you go/went to school, what you're studying/studied, and your STEM goals.

  • Discuss what it's like to be a Women in your field. Is it male dominated? Are there lots of labs or is it more computer based?

  • Think about some easy hands on activities your mentee could do from home.

  • Discuss the importance of physical and mental health, STEM is HARD for everyone. Encourage and lift up your mentee. 

  • Discuss some of the issues Women in STEM face (stereotypes, mansplaining).

  • Discuss what inspires you and what you value.

  • Fun some fun videos for your mentee to learn more about a specific area in STEM.

The age of your mentee will greatly impact how they need to be mentored. Consider some of these age specific topics and questions. 

Elementary School

These young women are curious about what STEM is. Break it up into it's basic components of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Discuss what they like to do for fun. Do they like to build things? Discuss structural and civil engineers. Are they curious about the weather and space? Meteorology and astrology could be for them. Do they like baking? Consider discussing chemistry. Opening their minds to how broad and encompassing STEM is will give them confidence that they can find their passion somewhere within it. 

When working with such young children it is important to be patient. Their ideas and interests might change daily. Be prepared to discuss robots one day and being a doctor the next. Keep STEM exciting and fun for them by staying on your toes and being open to discussing a new area in STEM. You can even use this as a learning opportunity for yourself!

Middle School

Middle school is a time of transition and growth. Middle school young women should be more focused, but still trying to discover themselves and their passion. These discussions should be more focused in one area of STEM, but still open to new possibilities. If a mentee thinks she might be interested in Mechanical Engineering I suggest doing a deep dive into it. From thermal fluids, robotics, materials, aerospace, and mechanical design a mentee interested in Mechanical Engineering might not know everything it encompasses. Take some time to really learn about each area and if your mentee is interested, they might not be interested in Mechanical Engineering after all!

Middle School is a stepping stone for high school. It is also when they will get to pick some of their very first electives. Many times the electives they choose in middle school will carry over to high school. By being encouraged to take computer literacy/science in middle school many women will continue this in high school. They will also feel more empowered and prepared for the high school level. If they aren't interested in computers suggest an advanced math or science class. If your mentee isn't interested in any of these don't stress! The most important thing is that they are happy and having fun during electives!

High School

There's a lot of stress facing young women in high school. Not only is the transition from middle school to high school difficult, but suddenly there is a pressure to take the ACT and/or SAT, take classes for college credit, get into a good college, and graduate. As a mentor you should consider all these things and help work through them with your mentee. Offer to help them decide which classes they should take. How many college credit classes is too many? Which classes for college credit should they even focus on and take? Discuss with your mentee what might be best for them. When going into STEM many universities will suggest incoming students retake some of the math and science classes they already received credit for. While this is good advice for some, it's not for everyone and should be determined on a case by case basis. Additionally, help them prepare for the ACT/SAT. While you don't need to run vocab with them, help they feel comfortable and confident! I always drink Florida OJ before a big test! 

Preparing and applying for college is one of the mot stressful and exciting parts of college. Help your mentee determine a major (hopefully STEM related). Then help them find which colleges are best fit for them. Do they want to stay in state? Out of state? What's important to them when looking at colleges? Small class sizes? Academic ranking? Athletics? All these factors are things your mentee needs to consider and luckily, they have you for help! College applications can also be overwhelming. Help them with their resume and essay. Offer advice and editing. Regardless of if you're great in grammar rules another set of eyes never hurt. Finally, help them find scholarships. College is expensive. There are so many scholarships out there sometimes it just takes a little digging to find!

Mentee Guide

  • Introduce yourself! What grade are you in? What aspects of STEM interest you!

  • Do you have any advice for going into Middle School/High School/College?

  • What is the best advice you can give for picking a major/planning a career?

  • What is the best advice you can give for finding relevant internships/research opportunities?

  • What clubs and organizations are/were you a part of? What are the benefits of these clubs?

  • Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?

  • How to you balance work and play?

  • Do you have any books you suggest I read?

Your age will impact what type of mentorship experience you have. Check out these grade specific tips and topics!

Elementary School

The world of STEM is incredible! It is vast and spans across so many different jobs that may not even seem like STEM. From a personal trainer, to a banker, to an engineer, all these jobs require a working knowledge in one of the STEM components. Take advantage of having the time to explore all that is STEM. You can do this through watching videos, trying different STEM activities, or by reading different books!

Middle School

Middle school is a great time to focus on the different technology of STEM. From coding to CAD and from chemistry experiments to growing plants, STEM is everywhere. Spend some time really thinking about which specific aspects of STEM are calling to you and try to focus some of your electives or after school activities in these areas. 

High School

High school is such an exciting time! Starting to think about college and your career can be overwhelming, but that's what your mentor is for! Pick their brain about which area in STEM you are most interested in, college applications, the ACT/SAT, and more! Help find scholarships with them and run your application resumes and essays by them. You can even ask them for advice about deciding which college to go to and which major to select. Can't determine a major? No worries! Schools offer an exploratory major where students can explore all their options a little more. Don't think a four year degree is for you? No worries! Everyone is different. Maybe take a gap year and work in an industry related to what you're interested in. Or take some time to travel. Studies show that those who travel tend to be more creative. Don't feel pressured to conform to a four year program if that's not what makes you comfortable and happy. Success isn't defined by a degree, but by each individual and what gives them peace and happiness. 

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