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Finding a Mentor

Guide to Finding a Mentor for Undergraduate Research & Creative Projects 

(Students may also benefit from the information on the UGA Mentoring Site).

STEP 1: Research IWS Faculty and Graduate Students

  • All faculty and graduate students are hosted in other departments, so it is useful to explore their departmental pages as well, where you may find more extensive bios, research descriptions, and lists of publications on their home department’s website.

  • Consider skimming prior publications or portfolios from your intended mentor to get a deeper sense of their interest areas, understand the methods they use in their research or artistic practice, and consider what you are most interested in learning from them as a mentor.
STEP 2: Contact Potential Mentors

  • A professional email is a great way to make initial contact with mentors. We recommend using the following approach:
    • Use your UGAmail email account
    • Write an easily understandable subject line (e.g., "IWS mentorship meeting")
    • Include a professional salutation (e.g., Professor, Dr, Mrs, Ms, Mx, Mr)
    • You may include your resumé or have it ready to provide on request

  • In your email, make sure that you have clearly identified:
    • Your name
    • Your class year
    • Why you are writing
    • Your desire to meet with the mentor to discuss his/her research
    • A week’s worth of specific days and times when you can meet with the faculty member (be sure to check the faculty member’s posted office hours first and recommend a time within their existing office hours if that fits within your schedule)

  • Remember the goal of contacting any potential mentor is to schedule an appointment to meet, not to exchange emails. Be patient. Give faculty time to respond but be prepared to send a professional follow-up if you have not received a reply within a week.

STEP 3: Meeting with Potential Mentors
  • Once you have set up an appointment to meet with a potential mentor, be respectful of the faculty member's time. Should you need to cancel or reschedule the appointment, contact the faculty member as early as possible.

  • Make sure you have done your own research about the mentor’s work and ask questions that make it clear to them that you have prepared. 
    • Avoid generic questions like “what are your research interests” or “what kind of media do you use in your artistic practice.”
    • Ask deeper questions that help you understand what you can learn from them as a mentee, such as “How do you do that type of research and why did you choose those methods?” or “What inspired you to direct that performance and what skills did you need to learn to succeed in that production?”
    • Remember that learning why a potential mentor does what they do, and how they do it, is as important as what they do

  • Ask questions that help you determine if their mentorship style will be a good fit for you. For example:
    • You can ask whether they have ever mentored undergraduate students, and if they have, what worked well in that relationship
    • You can ask directly about the mentors' expectations. 
      • How often are they willing to meet with you? 
      • What do they want to see during those meetings? 
      • Are they more hands-off or do they want to be more deeply involved in the project?

  • Be prepared to discuss your goals and how you hope their mentorship and involvement in the project can help you achieve those goals.
    • Prepare a question that you can ask your potential mentor to gauge what kind of advice or support they can give you. 
    • Clearly explain what you already know about the topic, but also share something you are currently grappling with regarding the questions in the grant application (e.g., your research question, methods, connecting with a community partner, etc.).
Step 4: Confirm your mentor
  • You must have a mentor confirmed before you can begin your project. Some mentors may have you sign a formal mentoring agreement; for others verbal or email confirmation is sufficient. Either way, your mentor MUST review and approve your project proposal before you submit it!
Questions? Problems?

Email the IWS Program Coordinator at and we will help you out!

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