Mentorship is valuable at all stages of your career, and it doesn’t have to look like the typical formal “mentor and protégé” model.

We like to think about mentorship as encompassing a wide range of relationships, interactions, and networks. We encourage you to do some research and find a mentorship model (or a bunch of models) that resonate with you.

There isn’t much in the way of formal mentoring at Waterloo, but here’s what we know—and some advice on building your own network.

What you need to know

  • Mentorship is valuable at all stages of your career.

  • Every department approaches mentorship differently, but yours should provide you with at least one mentor. If you can’t find a good fit there, contact a member of the FAUW Board of Directors, your department’s FAUW Council representative, or the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee (whose mandate is broader than its name suggests!) for help connecting with someone.

  • Asking for help finding a mentor won’t be seen as a weakness—it shows initiative and investment in your professional development.

FAUW's advice

  • Familiarize yourself with the basic models and guidelines (the CTE page is a great resource for that), and determine what kind of mentorship would serve you best.

  • One option is to have a whole network of colleagues you can draw on for advice that includes peers, senior colleagues, and junior colleagues, both within and outside of your department, discipline, and institution. This provides you with diverse advice and expertise and it spreads out the time commitment for everyone involved.

  • You’re a multi-faceted person with a multi-faceted career. Think through the different kinds of mentors from whom you could benefit. For example:

    • It’s a really good idea to have mentors both within and outside of your department and discipline. 

    • Methodological similarity might be more important for you than discipline.

    • It can be useful and validating to have a mentor who has experienced academic life from a similar positionality to you (young kids, disability, gender, racialization, etc).

    • You might need a mentor outside of the University, especially if you’re a senior faculty member in an administrative role.

    • Finding people whose values are similar to your own might help sustain the relationship.

  • Be clear about your—and their—needs and expectations. Establish confidentiality, time commitment, boundaries, forms of communication, and other aspects during an initial conversation.

  • Meet to chat about nothing in particular once or twice a term, so you get to know your mentor before you really 'need' them.

  • Pay it forward—offer advice to colleagues who are going through a stage of their career you’ve just completed. FAUW can provide opportunities for this, particularly connecting with new faculty, if you can't find ways to do this in your own department or faculty.

Where to find information

  • The University Teaching Fellows in each faculty will provide or arrange mentoring for any instructor.

  • The Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has a Faculty Mentoring webpage with best practices and additional reading materials.

  • The CTE especially recommends reading the “Mutual Mentoring Guide (PDF) ” developed by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Who to talk to

Thank you to Jo Atlee, Monica Vesely, and Sheila Ager for their contributions to this page.