MindCORE Step-Ahead Mentorship Program (STAMP)


The MindCORE Step-Ahead Mentorship Program (STAMP) matches undergraduate students with a mentor who is “a step ahead” of them and also at Penn as a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. Based on the behavioral science of mentorship, the goal is to create a safe space for mutually beneficial relationships and honest discussions about issues students face entering grad school and the workforce.


  • To increase access to quality mentorship experiences for Penn undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows
  • To support undergraduate students in developing self-efficacy through confidence-building, learning skills, and knowledge of the paths open to them
  • To support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in developing their teaching, communication, and relational skills
  • To promote greater personal and professional satisfaction amongst our mentors and mentees
  • To strengthen a culture of openness and supportiveness within academia at Penn


Program Structure

The program consists of regular meetings with your mentorship partner throughout the semester supplemented by training for mentors, structured activities, peer support, and social events. Each mentee applicant will be paired with one mentor as available; mentors may be assigned up to 2 mentees (if indicated as a preference). The matching process will aim to match individuals with similar interests of study, career paths, and life experiences as best as possible.

STAMP Program: October 2021 – May 2022


Who can apply? 

MENTEES: Any current undergraduate student enrolled at Penn may apply as a mentee (rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors).

MENTORS: Any current graduate student enrolled at Penn or postdoctoral fellow currently employed by Penn (who will also remain at Penn through the 2021-2022 academic year) may apply as a mentor.


2021-2022 Program Activities

Based on feedback from our Fall 2022 mentors and mentees, the 2021-2022 STAMP session offers the following:

  • Meet-n-Greet & Scavenger Hunt: All mentees & mentors are encouraged to join us for a STAMP “Meet-n-Greet” Friday October 22nd, 4pm, including a scavenger hunt to help pairs get to know each other. The event will be held in person, but the scavenger hunt can be done virtually if preferred.
  • Mentor Training: Mentors are strongly recommended to attend the two training sessions on mentorship from the Center of Teaching & Learning (dates TBA)
  • Professional Development: STAMP offers a list of professional & academic development webinars found here. Mentees are strongly recommended to attend at least 2 events during the semester & discuss with their mentor.
  • Structured Activities: Mentorship pairs will be provided a set of optional structured activities to explore a variety of topics (eg exploring career goals, skill development, improving health & well-being); pairs will be able to decide which activities they would like to use based on the mentee’s goals and mentor’s strengths. Download the STAMP Activity Guide here
  • Social events: MindCORE will host social events for STAMP participants to meet other mentorship pairs and have fun!
  • Click here for online resources on mentorship



Steps for the matching process:

  • In both mentor and mentee applications, we asked if the applicant wanted to provide any additional information about their experiences or identities that they would be beneficial to consider in their match.
  • From that information, we sought mentors who had volunteered similar information as the mentee applicant (eg a mentee who sought a mentor who understood the experiences of first generation students) and from there matched the mentee with the mentor who was in a field of study closest to their own.
    • This was done given the research supporting that mentees often benefit from mentors with similar significant experiences and identities; however, we did not match based on identity or demographics if not explicitly disclosed by the applicant as something they wished be considered in the matching process.
  • If the applicant did not specify additional considerations, we first sought to match pairs in similar fields of interest with a secondary consideration of topics of interest they would like to discuss during the mentorship process.
  • The matching process is conducted by MindCORE staff and applications were kept completely confidential. Please feel free to reach out to her with any questions or concerns: pennmindcore@sas.upenn.edu


Individual Support

We want to make sure both mentors and mentees feel supported throughout the program. We offer that program participants feel free to email pennmindcore@sas.upenn.edu with any questions, concerns, or needs for support, and we will work with you to find the resources you need. All correspondence will be kept confidential as allowed by law and University policy.


The Research of Mentorship

Mentorship with undergraduates has been shown to benefit students in many ways including increased academic performance, social integration, retention, and graduation.1,2,3 Mentors also receive many benefits including personal satisfaction, professional development, and institutional recognition.4

Research has shown that individuals with mentors who are closer to their position (ie a “step ahead”) in particular experience less relational challenges during mentorship, such as increased demonstration of commitment and satisfaction in feeling they are measuring up to their mentor’s standards.5

Based on this research & a literature review (full reference list here) conducted by MindCORE staff, we offer a handout of recommendations for facilitating STAMP mentorship relationships: 10 Elements of Successful Mentoring 



Questions or Concerns? Contact pennmindcore@sas.upenn.edu



  1. Collings, R., Swanson, V. & Watkins, R. (2014) The impact of peer mentoring on levels of student wellbeing, integration and retention: a controlled comparative evaluation of residential students in UK higher education. High Educ 68, 927–942. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9752-y
  2. Crisp, G. (2010). The Impact of Mentoring on the Success of Community College Students. The Review of Higher Education 34(1), 39-60. doi:10.1353/rhe.2010.0003.
  3. Kendricks, K., Nedunuri, K.V. & Arment, A.R. (2013) Minority Student Perceptions of the Impact of Mentoring to Enhance Academic Performance in STEM Disciplines. JSTEM 14:2, 38-46.
  4. Schmidt, E.K. & Faber, S.T. (2016). Benefits of Peer Mentoring to Mentors, Female Mentees, and High Education Institutions. Journal of Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning 24(2), 137-157. https://doi.org/10.1080/13611267.2016.1170560
  5. Ensher, E.A. & Murphy, S.E. (2010). The Mentoring Relationship Challenges Scale: The impact of mentoring stage, type, and gender. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 79, 253-266. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2010.11.008
  6. Ward, E.G., Thomas, E.E., & Disch, W.B. (2014). Mentor Service Themes Emergent in a Holistic, Undergraduate Peer-Mentoring Experience. Journal of College Student Development 55(6), 563-579. doi:10.1353/csd.2014.0058.