PhD student Bradley Barth leading a discussion at a mentoring workshop

This page serves as a starting point for graduate students to develop a network of mentors. It also provides information on what students should be able to expect from their mentors, as well as strategies for cultivating their mentoring relationships. Also be sure to check out our list of on-campus and online resources about mentoring.

Strategies for Success

  • Rather than relying on a single “guru” mentor, build a network or team of mentors to address different needs and issues
  • Assess your current mentors and identify potential needs for the future 
  • Ask for help where you need it, remembering to be specific and focused with your questions
  • Understand and take advantage of the resources available to you as a Duke student

In addition, you should consult The Graduate School’s Best Practices and Core Expectations, which outlines some strategies for success during your time at Duke in the areas of research, teaching, professional development, and community.

Strategies for Building Relationships

  • Assess your needs as a mentee, including potential career paths  
  • Identify several mentors for your network
  • Be courteous and professional, understanding the demands on faculty time
  • Request specific advice and guidance
  • Prepare for meetings with an agenda or list of action items
  • Maintain a list of professional goals and develop a feasible work plan
  • Keep an open mind and be responsive to critiques and suggestions for improvement
  • Follow through with suggestions and request further feedback  


The Graduate School recognizes and supports the particular needs of graduate students regardless of background, culture, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and work and life experience. Because mentoring needs differ from person to person, students are encouraged to seek out multiple mentors and create a support network to address their individual needs and future career goals. Diversity within a mentoring team enables students to enhance their creativity, critical thinking, and enjoyment of their graduate school experience.

While making the transition to graduate school, you might feel isolated, excluded, or alienated. But you are not alone. Duke offers many places for students from all backgrounds to find mentors to provide faculty and peer support: