Guidance and support from those who were in your shoes
Without the right connections, many students don't know how to prepare for graduate school, what applications demand, or how to find research opportunities. We believe this is a significant barrier that prevents students from reaching graduate school. Our graduate students aim to disrupt this cycle by guiding undergraduate students toward graduate school by sharing tips and advice that may not be obvious.
A Model to Meet Students Where They Are
With the diversity of backgrounds and identities, not everyone benefits from the same mentorship approach. STEM Routes has dedicated time and effort to the development of a multi-faceted approach to mentorship that builds community while also offering one-on-one discussion.
Peer Mentorship Model
Many hierarchical mentorship programs—in which the mentor always teaches and the mentee always learns—prevent the sharing of vulnerability and fixate on the passing down of knowledge and leadership which maintains the status quo. We create strong mentorship connections by centering a relational approach, in which both mentors and mentees learn from and teach each other, providing agency for both individuals to actualize their career goals.
Representation is particularly important for our students who are first-generation, low-income, or of underrepresented background and the mentors they engage with in their STEM fields do not share similar life experiences and cannot relate to their unique challenges. STEM Routes encourages students to select their own mentor out of our trained graduate student mentors. This gives students the opportunity to choose which aspect of their identity needs support and representation and find a mentor who can speak directly to those experiences.
Studies show that a bad mentorship program can cause more harm than a good program can bring benefit. For this reason, we require our mentors to attend regular trainings to ensure mentorship interactions are productive and uplifting. We want to teach our mentors how to recognize nuance in cultural norms within professional spaces and work to dismantle those norms which are harmful.