Successful Mentor Relationships



  • Initiate contact within three business days of receiving Mentee contact information. Introduce yourself, share info, encourage questions or discuss concerns.
  • Determine together the method of communication that works best for you and your Mentee(s). (Email, texting, chat, Facebook, in-person, etc.).
  • Find out what the Mentee has done so far (registration, orientation, when will the Mentee arrive on campus) and how things are going.
  • Inquire as to why the Mentee chose their particular program of study, and share what program of study you chose, and why.
  • Inform Mentee(s) of upcoming events that are important to new and first-year students; specifically, this would include the importance of attending our orientation and welcome (O-DAYS!) and Campus Life CONNECT U.
  • Communicate as often as you like from month to month, but adhere to the established Communication Schedule for the Official Program Communication: within the first three days of each month.
  • Ask Mentee(s) about their goals and determine your role: social connection? Advice on how to study? Referrals to resources? Procedures? It’s okay if you don’t have answers to every question—make appropriate referrals.
  • Mentee contact information should be kept private. Only assigned Peer Mentors and Campus Life staff should have access to the names and email addresses of assigned Mentees.

Keep in Mind:

  • This “getting to know you stage” may take some time, so be patient.
  • Avoid assumptions.
  • Take initiative with communication and schedule it.
  • Mentee(s) may be shy.
  • If Mentee(s) do not respond, DO NOT take it personally. DO inform Campus Life Coordinator while maintaining ongoing communication.
  • Be sensitive to cross-cultural similarities and differences and how they influence interaction.
  • A mentoring relationship takes time and commitment to develop.
  • Take it easy! Take time to know each other’s personalities, interests and needs. Taking things slowly will be helpful in increasing the comfort level.
  • Know that some Student Mentees may treat you as a trusted confidant and disclose personal information during conversations. This information should be treated with the utmost respect and confidentiality.
  • Take note any questions you may have for discussion with peers or OCAD U staff.



  • Continue to communicate with your Mentee(s), checking in as much as you do like; adhere to the monthly communication schedule.
  • Help your Mentee(s) by providing encouragement, support and guidance; refer them to appropriate resources.
  • Support and reassure your Mentee(s) during difficulties.
  • Ask about class work and share personal experiences on how to deal with schoolwork demands, stress, and extracurricular activities.
  • Listen to your Mentee(s); point out strengths, building their confidence towards making independent decisions.

Keep in Mind:

  • It takes time, commitment, and sensitivity to develop a connection.
  • As your Mentee(s) get to know you better, they will feel more comfortable and less intimidated.
  • Mentee(s) have the option of opting out of the program at any time. Do not take it personally if this happens. Let us know if this happens.
  • Remember… when you do not know the answer, say so. Find out who does know and make appropriate referrals. Keep notes.

Tips for Communication:

  • Adjust your communication style as necessary to accommodate that of your Mentee(s) (directness/indirectness; outspoken manner vs. reserved; outgoing vs. shyness).
  • Be sensitive to the Mentee(s) verbal and non-verbal clues.


  • Further explore goals and expectations, and the areas the Student Mentees may need additional support. Make appropriate referrals.
  • Informally clarify your common interests, values and objectives.
  • Check the OCAD U Events Calendar regularly and encourage participation in events, sometimes as a group with other Mentees.
  • Plan a monthly group activity.


  • Face-to-face contact and building trust and mutual respect.
  • When you try to suggest alternatives, which are not accepted.
  • Rejection: you offer un-needed help or the Mentee is not ready.
  • Working with a Mentee for many months but they drop out.
  • Deciding on activities to do together.



  • Follow up on class work inquiries.
  • Make sure the Mentee is getting the answers or info needed.
  • Recommend activities, volunteer program or student-run groups.


  • Through continued communication, the needs, values and beliefs of Mentees will be clarified and will become more apparent.
  • The Mentee is becoming more familiar, involved in social life, and better understands how to deal with OCAD University life.

Tips for Communication:

  • Do not expect that your Mentee(s) will do everything you advise.
  • Put yourself in the Mentee’s situation; see it from their point of view rather than your own.
  • Verify Mentee’s feelings and concerns.
  • Respond to the Mentee’s need properly (need for nurturance vs. need for autonomy).



  • Mentee(s) have acquired a familiarity with OCAD U and its procedures: confidence, knowledge, and a stable social network.
  • Mentee(s) will become less dependent.
  • Increased self-sufficiency results in less frequent contact.
  • Peer Mentor duties have been fulfilled upon the conclusion of the program at the end of November.
  • Remember to communicate with Student Mentees and thank them for their involvement.
  • Extend an offer of continued support (though informal) for the following winter term.
  • Relationship can often continue as friends.

Engaging our Online Community

In addition to email and a communication schedule, the use of online utilities provides a virtual community where Peer Mentors can connect with one another, other students, and Mentees.

Starting in May, Peer Mentors are encouraged to engage our new students online through the Facebook group, myOCADU Students.­­

  • Introduce yourself as an upper-year student and a Peer Mentor.
  • Welcome, answer questions and correct misinformation.
  • Direct students to appropriate resources.
  • Encourage participation in the Student Mentor Program as a Mentee!

The primary goals of engaging our online community are:

  • To create a hub of information, interaction and engagement.
  • To provide a student-friendly environment allowing new students to connect to the community in a positive/non-threatening manner.
  • To support and encourage Peer Mentors by providing an easy communication tool to connect with each other and Student Mentees.
  • To assist, by providing information that is timely, relevant and presented in a way that allows for feedback, response, or input.
  • To provide insight to prospective students who are eager to learn
    about life as an OCAD U student.
  • To provide parents/family with insight into student life at OCAD U.

Please keep the following principles in mind when conducting yourself and engaging with our online community. They have been developed based on some of the principles of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use ( which state:

  • What you say/do reflects on you.
  • Those are real people out there.
  • Play by the rules.
  • Keep it private.
  • Do not pollute.
  • Remain cool under fire.
  • Read with your eyes open.
  • Respect the creator—credit the source.

Many OCAD University students use Facebook to connect and interact with their friends and peers, and to get to know other people on campus.

  • ‘Page’ members do not have to become ‘friends’ with each other.
  • Individual privacy levels can be maintained and are your responsibility.
  • Friendship requests should be accepted at your own discretion.
  • Mentor/Mentee assignment is NOT necessarily based on Facebook interaction, but a student signing up as a Mentee may ask for you to be assigned to them if they join the program.

Here are a few ideas that can be posted to the group ‘wall’ in Facebook:

  • Events/activities that help students in and out of the classroom.
  • Reviews or photos from Student Mentor Program or OCAD U events.
  • Start an art, design dialogue, or answer questions already asked.
  • Information about student-run groups/clubs.
  • Student strategies or tips.

DOs & DON’Ts
When you post online, you are engaging in a very public conversation.
Be respectful of your intended and unintended audience: students; their family and friends; prospective students from all over the globe; faculty, staff, donors, partners; and public.

Be mindful that you could be held personally accountable for your comments. Respect privacy and feelings:

  • Be respectful of copyright laws and appropriately credit sources.
  • Do not use obscene, inflammatory, threatening, or disrespectful language, or engage in behaviour that might be considered insulting or harassing.
  • Show consideration for topics that might be considered controversial.
  • It is acceptable to be critical if it is done in a professional manner and backed up with well-thought-out reasons.
  • Express your opinions and ideas, but do not use the Facebook page for commercial purposes or political lobbying.
  • Do not knowingly or recklessly post false or defamatory information about OCAD U or any member of the OCAD U community.
  • Strive to provide high-quality content that reflects the goals of the
    Student Mentor Program.

What is Intersectionality?

As seen during in-person support and training day Anti-oppression discussion:

Commissioned and Produced:
Professor Peter Hopkins, Newcastle University –

Design, Animation & Sound Design:
Stacy Bias –

Courtesy Kai Engel and licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial License

Special Thanks: to Newcastle University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fund for providing funds to support the production of this video and to Kelechi Dibie and Vijaya Kotur for their advice and support.

Active Listening

Adapted from Conflict Resolution Services, St. Stephen’s Community House, Toronto

The ability to listen is an important skill in interpersonal communication, improving personal relationships by reducing conflict, strengthening cooperation, and fostering understanding.

Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others by focusing attention on the speaker. Suspending your own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important to fully attend to the speaker.

Demonstrate active listening though:


To show interest; to encourage the speaker to keep talking.

Do not agree or disagree; use neutral words; vary your tone
of voice; use body language. Nod your head; face the speaker.

“Can you tell me more about it?”
“What happened next?”


To help you understand what the speaker says; get more information.

Ask questions so that the speaker can help you understand.

“When did this happen?”
“Can you help me picture the situation?”


To show that you are listening and understanding what is being said; to check your interpretation of what you have heard to make sure you do understand correctly.

Using your own words, state briefly what the other person has said.

“So, as you see it, I was being unfair when I gave you that assignment?”
“If I understand you correctly, you want your roommate to take a greater share in doing the housework?”


To show that you understand how the speaker FEELS; to help the speaker evaluate their own feelings after hearing them expressed
by someone else.

Identify the speaker’s emotion.

“This situation has made you very angry.”
“You felt humiliated when you were criticized in front of your peers.”


To review progress; to pull important ideas, facts, and feelings together; to establish a basis for further discussion.

Restate the major ideas that have been expressed, including
the feelings.

“You’re stressed and exhausted because you’re being kept awake most nights by loud music from next door. When you tried to ask for a couple of days off, your supervisor seemed angry, and that has made tense. Is that a fair summary of what you’ve said so far?”


To acknowledge the worthiness of the speaker; to show respect without necessarily agreeing with what the speaker says.

Recognize the value to the speaker of their issues and feelings; show appreciation for their efforts and actions.

“I know it has taken a lot of courage for you to speak to me about this.”
“You take a lot of pride in your ability and skills.”
“Thank you for spending the time we needed to work this out.”

When interacting, people may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next, and are often not listening attentively to one another.

The listener’s personal interpretation will also play a role.
These barriers should be considered.

Rules for Good Listening

Adapted from “Human Resources in Business”

You cannot listen if you are talking.

Help them feel that they are free to talk.
This is called permissive environment.

Look and act interested. Do not read, or do anything else while they talk.
Listen to understand, rather than to respond.

Do not doodle, tap or shuffle papers. Would it be quieter if you shut the door?
Give full attention.

Try to put yourself in their shoes so you can see their point of view.

Do not start for the door or walk away.
Allow plenty of time and do not interrupt.

An angry person gets the wrong meaning from words.

This puts the talker on the defensive.

This encourages them to talk and shows you are listening.

This is the FIRST and LAST rule for good listening because all others depend on it. It is not possible to do a good job listening while you are talking.

A gentle reminder:
Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, but one tongue—to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.” ~ Socrates

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are how people relate to one another.

Successful Peer Mentors/student leaders develop good interpersonal skills:

  • The ability to balance one’s own emotions and opinions while
    relating to others, and a genuine interest in developing a shared understanding where each of you has accurate information about the other’s ideas and suggestions, feelings, intentions, emotional responses and assumptions.

Effective interpersonal communication include the following skills:

A structured way of active listening and responding to others by
focusing attention on the speaker:

  • Listen, be encouraging, and clarify (check that you understand by restating or paraphrasing). Show concern for the person and their feelings, summarize and validate.

Transmit information (speak/share information) without accusation or judgement.
Suspend your own frame of reference and judgment to fully attend to the speaker:

  • Describe actions/details without generalizing about motives or attitudes. E.g. “Bob has done most of the talking and the rest of us have said very little”, rather than “Bob likes to hog the spotlight”.

Identify feelings by conveying information about your inner state and not as an accusation. E.g. “I felt hurt when you ignored my comment”, rather than “You’re rude“. “I am disappointed that you forgot”, rather than “You don’t care about me”.

Types of PM Assistance

Seven types of Peer Mentor (PM) assistance:

HELPING Student Mentees think more positively and proactively
LISTENING when Student Mentees have questions or problems
IDENTIFYING Student Mentee’s challenges and providing feedback
ENCOURAGING positive behaviors; confronting negative behavior
PROVIDING appropriate information and support
SHARING your relevant experiences, knowledge and skills
REFERRING students to the appropriate services