Mentor Program

mentor and mentee.

Bonnie Collins, MSW '80 and Shermeeka Mason, MSW '13, during one of their mentoring sessions

Seeking Alumni Mentors for 2020-2021!

We are in need of new alumni mentors for our upcoming academic year. If you are interested in mentoring our students, please contact Denise Krause.

> Fill out the online form (accessible) or

> Download sign up form (pdf)

We facilitate a successful mentor program that links alumni with current students.

Mentors and students are matched according to interest and will create a mentoring plan based on mutual expectations. Students will be able to select a mentor based on mutual interest, attributes, and demographics. This program invites alumni to share their professional experiences and encourages MSW students to broaden their network of support.

Please contact Denise Krause at to be a mentor and help shape our profession!

Mentor Program: A mutually beneficial relationship between alumni and MSW students! The building blocks to being a successful mentor. 90% of mentors and 84% of mentees believe the UBSSW Mentoring Program has great potential to strengthen the relationship between the school and the social work community. Nearly 70% of mentees engage in informal conversations and meetings with their mentors. Mentor: Take on a variety of roles like coach, sponsor, guide, role model, and teacher. Empower and celebrate mentees by highlighting gifts, strengths, and potential. Offer guidance, advice, support, and information. Demonstrate social work engagement skills. Mentee: Needs a space to think, reflect, learn and grow and be themselves. The top 3 benefits: professional networking, life skills, and learning social work perspectives. Learns by example. May feel unsure or nervous at the start. Invest in the initial engagement: reach out, be approachable, offer choice. Build a trustworthy, collaborative, safe and open relationship. Make a plan and re-visit it regularly. Be curious about motivation: What led you to social work? What is your best hope for our relationship? .

More resources

Guidelines for Mentors

Welcome to the UB School of Social Work Mentor Program.* We hope that you find your mentoring experience to be rewarding and enjoyable. Below are some guidelines to assist you in approaching the mentoring relationship with your assigned student.


Social Work is a profession based in relationship. Professional networking and informational interviewing are essential relationship building skills to develop as social workers progress through our careers. You have been matched with a student who fits your stated interests as closely as possible. Your mentee is a foundation year or advanced year student at the UBSSW who voluntary requested a mentor. Whether or not your mentee lives near to you, you are encouraged to develop a working relationship through the means that work best for both of you (phone, email, face-to-face, social networking). As with all networking activities, this program is essentially designed to create a mutually beneficial relationship where the mentee receives information and support and the mentor has the opportunity to shape the profession.**

To Begin

Your mentee’s name and contact information will be provided to you before the second week of the semester. We encourage you to contact your mentee right away to introduce yourself and to schedule a first “meeting”. You and your mentee are responsible for establishing goals for your individual mentoring relationship, working towards them, and evaluating your collective efforts. If your mentee does not respond to you, please contact Denise Krause.

Time Commitment

It is the quality of the mentoring relationship that is the key to a successful mentoring relationship, not the quantity of meetings or contact that you have with your social work student. We do ask, however, that you meet or talk with your mentee at least once per month during the fall and spring semesters. Obviously, the needs of your practice or position are paramount and the students have been instructed to respect your time and availability boundaries. That being said, we sincerely hope that you will make yourself available as needed. The social work student should be able to contact you easily and you should be able to respond in a timely fashion. Your mentee may need just a few moments of your time on short notice. The student has been informed that a component of professionalism is respect for the time of others. Hence, it will be up to you as the mentor to identify demands that are excessive or unreasonable.

The Mentor Role: What It Is and Is Not

  1. The role of the mentor is multifaceted. We hope that you are able to give the social work student a realistic view of the profession. Examples of appropriate topics of discussion and discourse include: issues of current concern to the profession; the mentor’s approaches to ethical and professional dilemmas, career goals, the scope of social work practice, lifelong learning, interview skills, effective work styles, professional organizations, and quality of life issues in the School of Social Work and post-graduation.
  2. The School of Social Work encourages you to provide guidance on electives and special topics related to fields of practice but respectfully requests that you do not provide opinions about specific faculty.
  3. You are encouraged to meet your social work student informally for coffee or a meal at your office, or anywhere else that is mutually convenient. (Please keep in mind that the School of Social Work does not have funds available to reimburse mentors or mentees for mileage, meals, or other costs.) Mentors are asked to inform students of conferences, workshops, public meetings and any special social work-related event that a mentee may attend. In setting up meetings, feel free to utilize all types of communication methods.
  4. It is hoped that you will be able to assist your mentee in developing strategic alliances within the social work community and be able to provide him or her with introductions to other professionals who may act as a resource for the student.
  5. While the social work student may ask for advice or guidance as to the locations and types of practice, it is inappropriate for the student to attempt to utilize the mentoring program or relationship as a recruiting device or job placement program.
  6. It is also not appropriate for social work students to seek assistance on researching substantive content for coursework or fieldwork.
  7. Due to the nature of the relationship, discussions between you and your assigned student are confidential.
  8. It is possible that a conflict of interest may arise based on a field placement assignment made after a mentoring match. Should this occur, please notify Associate Dean Krause and the student will be matched with another mentor.

Watch our Mentor Program Orientation Video [9:57 mins]

snippet of video - two people communicating


If you have any questions about this program or your assigned mentee, please feel free to telephone the Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Alumni Relations, Denise Krause at 716-645-1223 or email at

*The SSW Mentor Plan is adapted from the UB Law School Mentoring Program (2010).

**The mentoring relationship as administered by the SSW falls within the guidelines of the NASW Code of Ethics.