Mentor Expectations & Ideal Qualities

Commitment - Commit to actively participating in weekly meetings with student team.

  • One hour per week meeting

    • Get updates from the team

    • Provide feedbacks (Sprint Review)

    • Provide domain knowledge, training, education

  • Responsive to questions (email or other communication channel)

  • Consistent throughout the year

    • Regularly available for the team

Preparation - Think ahead.

  • Provide technical and domain knowledge support

    • The expectation is NOT for the mentor to have all the answers. Be open to including other experts and leaders within your company.

  • Utilize Project Charter

    • Give student team context for why the project is important and how it will impact the organization

    • Goals, milestones, brief timeline

  • External resources

    • Articles, guest lectures, industry standards and benchmarks, case study examples or test case project

  • Use agile methodology to achieve milestones and outline team roles

    • Mentor(s) - Product Owner

    • TA - Scrum Master

    • Students (undergraduate and graduate) - Development Team

    • Subgroups/sub-teams

      • Sketch of tasks, backgrounds, interests that would help with alignment for the sub-teams

      • Forming groups can foster more leadership opportunities

    • Computing resources and working environment

      • Data access, domain resources, etc.

The task we had to accomplish felt purposeful and thus made finding the solution more satisfying. I love the way it was structured in sub-teams as it made our individual voices easier to be heard. Even though I am a freshman and most of my teammates are seniors or graduate students, I felt like I was able to contribute well. I didn’t come in with much experience, so that fact that I was able to work on research with [company] was enlightening and extremely fun. - Data Mine student

Utilize support systems in The Data Mine

  • The Corporate Partner Team

    • Main point of contact

  • The Data Science Team

    • Technical resources and development support

  • Consider faculty connections and potential role within project

  • Teaching Assistant (TA)

    • Liaison to the student development team and responsible for team deliverables


  • Get to know students individually – their strengths and aspirations

  • Maintain open communication outside of weekly meeting

    • Set clear guidelines for communication

    • Idea: Establish virtual office hours

  • Consider attending lab time


  • Provide clear, actionable feedback.

  • Co-piloting with TA to evaluate strengths of individuals and assign tasks

  • Assign a notetaker and record each meeting for documentation

My favorite memory from The Data Mine is there was a time period where the mentors were very unhappy with the data architect team which was the team I’m in and we had a meeting where they conveyed how they felt. After this meeting, our team worked really hard and well together to make sure we completed our tasks and do a really good job overall. After we presenter our work, the mentors were very happy with us and proud of the work we accomplished. This was my favorite experience because it reminded me that it’s always important to push through and work through problems no matter how hard so that eventually you will be able to succeed. - Data Mine student


  • Stay open to possibilities and encourage students to fail fast

  • Understand that each student brings different skill levels

    • Graduate/highly technical students

    • Students just starting their data science experience

  • Challenge the students but understand that this is an experiential learning environment

Engagement - Fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment

  • Encourage (require) cameras to be on for all meetings

  • Foster a sense of belonging

  • Promote team building

  • Provide a space of psychological safety

  • Be aware of academic schedule and student life

Best memory? Probably at the very beginning of the project where I just shared a simple graph in the general group chat. A day later [my Corporate Partner Mentor] messaged me and said it was being shared around the office! It felt good to make a real impact. - student, AY 2020-21

What is NOT the role of a mentor?

  • Doing the work of the project

  • Giving the students a step-by-step guide to do the project

  • Teaching them EVERYTHING. We have technical resources to offer students in data science

  • Disciplining students, leave academic integrity to us