Connect with Mentors

Mentoring is when a professional in academia or industry gives time, attention, insight, and advice to foster a mentee in an individual career. Mentoring is about helping a mentee develop social capital within an environment where they have the resources and support to develop technical and intellectual capital. It is not just providing office space, but introducing a mentee to the inner workings of an organization, providing advice on how to handle various situations, and teaching office interpersonal skills. Mentoring involves two-way communication that has benefits for both parties.

Types of Mentors

As a practice, we do not match you with a mentor. Instead, we can make recommendations for you to explore and create chemistry with a mutually agreeable mentor. Start by reaching out to individuals who share your training, background and interests for informational interviews-short conversations where you learn more about their day-to-day activities and what they love about their work. Be inclusive to get varied perspectives.

To start, explore the shortlists at the Careers Beyond Academia Career Search LibGuide for willing participants to reach out to. Together you can determine the scope, level, and frequency of interactions. Mentors can be inside or outside your field of study, be more or less experienced than you, and can include:

  • Peers
  • Your advisor(s)
  • Professionals within the organization
  • Professionals outside the organization
  • Family and friends, colleagues at your hobbies
  • Maybe even celebrities or famous scholars you have never met


Alumni are a great resource to help you explore career options. Cornell alumni love to hear from current students, as it can generate great satisfaction in “giving back.” Many have explored different jobs and welcome the opportunity to share what they have learned. Don’t forget about alumni from your previous alma maters.

  • Careers Beyond Academia LibGuide has a list of mentors, arranged by career pathway. Many are alumni, previous participants or speakers in our program so they will understand why you are reaching out to them for your career exploration.
  • LinkedIn – a professional social network that helps connect professionals in the work community. Consider joining affinity groups such as Careers Beyond Academia’s group.
  • Doctoral Career Outcomes – a compilation of surveys that illustrates employers and positions of Cornell doctoral alumni.
  • Cornell (or your undergraduate alma mater) alumni LinkedIn groups – groups that share information and connections can be university-wide, department specific, or even through a group you are active in (e.g. Cornell Symphony, Women in Science, oSTEM, and many more).
  • CUeLINKS – a platform for you to connect with Cornell alumni, faculty, current students, and friends of Cornell to learn, get information, network, and share knowledge with each other.

Get connected with alumni – reach out for an informational interview or career connections through any of these online platforms.

Get Started via Networking

Networking is simply starting a conversation with someone who might have mutual interests. Networking helps you make connections to expand your career opportunities, research potential companies, and find your career fit. Additionally, it can help you meet people outside academia, learn necessary skills, find technical gaps in your knowledge, and learn the lingo of an industry.

  • Coldmail someone you admire. Coldmail is defined as reaching out to someone you don’t know, such as a speaker from a conference or the author of an article.
  • Reach out to alumni from both Cornell University and your undergraduate institution. Alumni are often genuinely interested in helping. To find out where Cornell graduates from your field of research are employed, go to the doctoral alumni career outcomes dashboard.
  • Research a company you are interested in or reach out to someone in a job title that interests you. Be respectful and ask about their work.
  • Take advantage of panels, workshops, symposia, and clubs on campus. Amazing, fascinating people come to speak at these events. What a great way to get insight into the work they do! By asking for referrals and connecting, you will be able to expand your network to increase your chances of a weak tie to someone you don’t yet know.
  • Ask your advisor’s advice about your career exploration goals. You might be surprised how supportive they are if you approach the conversation with their perspective in mind. They might have previous advisees or know colleagues who have gone down many varied paths.
  • Attend as many conferences as you can, especially outside the traditional ones your department attends. Meet new people and ask questions of everyone you meet to learn about their experiences. Get business cards, write a note to connect, and follow up with an email.
  • Create a professional profile. List key words to identify yourself. Establish yourself as an expert by demonstrating what you are good at.

Helpful Resources for the Practice of Mentoring