Finding Mentors on Campus

Building relationships with advisors and mentors is essential to success in graduate school. Advisors and mentors can help you navigate your graduate program and guide you toward achieving your long-term goals.

Graduate Advisors

Graduate advisors can support graduate students in navigating their academic experience. For example, your graduate advisor can help you plan a course of study for your academic program so that you graduate on time, choose an appropriate culminating project, and help you identify resources for meeting your goals. A graduate advisor is typically assigned to you upon enrollment in a graduate program (to find advisors by department, please visit the complete list of graduate programs and graduate advisors).

As a graduate student, you should use your time with your graduate advisor productively. It is recommended that you share with your advisor your goals and expectations within the graduate program. Be sure to write down your questions and concerns, and ask for clarification as needed during your conversations. Try to touch base with your graduate advisor at regular intervals and reach out to them if you are facing difficulty completing your academic requirements.

Mentors on Campus

For many graduate students, an important component of success is finding, and building relationships with, effective mentors. Mentors can guide you through graduate school and beyond by suggesting resources, facilitating professional connections, listening to questions and concerns, and encouraging you as you complete your program. In addition to academic guidance, mentors can support personal and professional growth, so you may seek different mentors for different purposes.

Choose mentors who care about your success and deserve your trust. Effective mentorship develops over time and has the potential to lead to professional collaboration and mutual support. Students with mentors often perform better academically, attend more conferences, contribute more to research projects, and access larger networks of faculty and professionals in their field.

How to find academic and professional guidance in your program

Some students may feel intimidated by the idea of approaching faculty or staff for advice, but remember that faculty and advising staff are available to support you during graduate studies.  Below are tips on getting to know faculty and staff mentors: 

  • Speak with your graduate advisor early on in your program. Graduate advisors can provide valuable information and resources throughout your time at CSULB.
  • Get to know faculty in your department by visiting them during office hours. Be sure to share your academic and professional goals and interests with your professors.
  • If you are interested in conducting research with a faculty member, you can learn about the research interests of your professors by reading their faculty profiles online.
  • Speak with graduate students who have advanced standing in the program and ask for their input about courses, career paths, and research opportunities.
  • Ask for help! There are many on-campus resources to guide you toward completing your program.
  • Feel free to look outside of your department for potential campus mentors and support. Your own peers, including classmates and lab-mates, may also make effective mentors. Seek out peer mentors who are farther along in the degree process than you are, or who have achieved accomplishments that you would like to emulate.