FAQ for Prospective Mentors

If your questions are not answered below, please email Dr. Sarah Shoemaker (shoemaker@ncssm.edu).

1. What are the benefits and rewards of mentoring an NCSSM student?

The benefits of mentoring are endless. Here are just a few.

  • Enjoy the energy and curiosity that students bring to your workplace

  • Impact and train the next generation

  • Showcase your research/innovation as our students communicate their work to their peers and the community

  • Introduce and recruit prospective college students and potential employees to your university/company

  • Provide essential mentoring experience for your staff and for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students

  • Enhance success in meeting outreach goals and/or funding of grant proposals

  • NCSSM seeks collaboration and provides Letters of Support to facilitate further opportunities for outreach

2. What is the student expected to accomplish as part of their research/internship experience?

Students are expected to

  • apply concepts and skills learned in the classroom to be an active participant on a portion of an ongoing project or to develop a project of their own under the guidance and instruction of the mentor

  • pursue their curiosity and passion in any variety of the wide range of fields including STEM, humanities, social science

  • take ownership of their opportunity (with facilitation from NCSSM Director and NCSSM Instructor)

  • complete all course assignments including student deliverables of written proposal and oral and/or poster presentation to the NCSSM community (assessed by NCSSM Instructor, no requirements for grading by mentors)

  • to develop the soft skills that will be an essential key to their success as they pursue their education and careers

  • to present their accomplishments to the community at the NCSSM Research Symposium (in spring and/or summer)

To learn more, see this past publication by NCSSM administrators (https://www.ncssm.edu/news/2016/10/18/ncssm-administrators-publish-in-gifted-child)

To assess student development and learning, NCSSM instructors assess student performance in the following assignments (which vary by program):

  • Small group and individual meetings with NCSSM Mentorship instructional team

  • Oral communications such as Elevator Pitch, 10 minute symposium presentation with slideshow

  • Written communications such as proposal writing, research paper/poster, literature review, etc.

3. What are the expectations for a mentor?

For all programs, participating mentors are asked to:

  • offer direction and support as you guide the student on their own research project or a part of your ongoing research for completion by end of program

  • welcome a student into your work environment

  • provide safety training and a safe environment for the student on site (and complete Form 2 of the NCSSM Scientific Review Committee paperwork to ensure safety

  • permit NCSSM to complete an annual background check for active volunteer mentors at your site

  • to communicate with the Director of Mentorship and Research as quickly as possible regarding any needs or concerns

  • to provide brief evaluations of the students' performance and development (two 5-10 minute surveys per student)

  • be enthusiastic and willing to share your passion for your field of study

  • enjoy the energy and curiosity the students bring

4. Can my staff/team be involved in mentoring the student when/if I am busy?

Absolutely, our programs offer a fantastic opportunity for members of your team to get experience in mentoring, a critical skill for their professional development. Team members, often graduate students and postdoctoral fellows commonly serve as mentors for NCSSM students.

5. What costs are associated with NCSSM's research/innovation programs?

The program is of no cost to the mentor or student and Burroughs Wellcome Fund, NCSSM Foundation and NCSSM State funds provide funding for programmatic and instructional expertise and support as well as transportation to the mentors’ locations .

6. What is the time commitment for a mentor?

Opportunities range from 5 weeks (Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:00) in June/July to opportunities of 22 weeks (Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:00-4:00) from August to March (with a break in Dec./Jan.) in the Mentorship Program.

7. What are the procedures for bringing a minor student to my workplace?

Only the following institutions have required regulations that we are aware of at this time:


    • Requires permission from each volunteer to complete annual background checks for all participating mentors

    • Minor training is required along with a signed attestation of reviewing the minor training slides

  • Duke University and Duke Hospitals

    • NCSSM partners with Duke University and Duke Hospitals to allow for our students to engage in research/internships in person format. If you have further questions, contact Youth Protection Coordinator (youthprotection@duke.edu).

Stacy Fair, M.Ed.

Director of Youth Programs and Compliance, Department of Risk Assessment

Email: slfair@ncsu.edu

Phone: 919-515-4256


Protection of Minors Coordinator at UNC Starr Barbaro, MPAOffice of the Vice Chancellor for Student AffairsProtection of Minors on Campus100 Europa Drive, Suite 270, Campus Box 5010Chapel Hill, NC 26517(919) 843-8995
  • For any other requirements for minors, contact departmental representatives.

8 . How can I connect with an NCSSM student to serve as a mentor?

Click here to learn how to get involved!