Student Roles and Responsibilities

Open communication is the foundation of a productive student-mentor relationship. Communication should be professional. Students should be enthusiastic and assertive in communicating their individual interests and needs. One of the greatest ways in which a mentor may be an asset to a student is by sharing real-world work experiences. Students should take advantage of this asset by asking questions about the workplace and how best to prepare for specific work environments.

Students may discuss a range of topics with mentors, from schoolwork and career goals to extracurricular activities and relationships with other students, faculty and staff. Remember that while mentors play many different roles throughout the relationship, the mentor is not a parent or counselor. Most importantly, students must keep their commitments and remember that their mentors have volunteered this time to be of service to them.

Here are some examples of items a student may wish to discuss with her/his mentor:

  • What’s it like to work in a manufacturing environment?
  • Will you review my resume?
  • What’s it like to live and work in an international country?
  • What should I expect from a co-op?
  • What’s the difference between a co-op and an internship?
  • My skills are _______, where best could I apply these skills?
  • How do you motivate teammates who are geographically-dispersed?
  • What can you tell me about the consulting field?
  • How should I respond to this job offer?
  • Can you give me tips on negotiating this job offer?
  • Where do you envision the _________industry (or company) will be in the future?
  • What are good characteristics of leadership in this field?
  • Which skill sets do you believe will be important in ______industry in the next several years?
  • Should I get an MBA (or other Masters) degree?
  • Should I pursue a Professional Engineer (PE) License?
  • What are the steps toward getting a PE license?
  • How important is networking?
  • Will you review my LinkedIn Profile?
  • Can you tell me about the PSIMES organization and how to get involved after graduation?
  • What will be required in business to get my ideas accepted?
  • What interpersonal skills or soft skills are best for success?
  • What are the differences between working for a small company versus a large organization? Private versus publicly traded organizations?


Home of the first established industrial engineering program in the world, the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach.

We are Innovators. We are Makers. We are Excellence in Engineering. We are Penn State IME.

The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

310 Leonhard Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-7601

FAX: 814-863-4745