See All My Projects

Welcome Mentors to Your Studio


Professional and faculty mentors help develop your local network to support impactful projects and develop design leaders. Welcome mentors and set clear expectations to help them engage with your studio quickly. And always show thanks for their time and support!

Output: Next step and timeline for your mentor to work with your studio.

Effective ways to welcome mentors to your studio:

  1. Review the needs for your studio. Here are some ways to mentors can help your studio:
    • Facilitate workshops & give project feedback.
      • Invite an expert to facilitate an interactive workshop related to a specific topic of the design process to help members from all majors have a great DFA experience. Check out “Hold workshops with mentors” for next steps for workshops after reaching out to mentors!
      • Low time commitment: Run 1-2 workshops throughout the term.
    • Scope projects.
      • Tackling local challenge areas to support existing initiatives in the community and create regular partners for your DFA studio. It can also support mentors’ current work in their field of research or industry and help your members get better connected to the local community.
      • Low/mid time commitment: Meet 1-2 times a month or throughout the term.
    • Coach a project team or help implement projects.
      • Have a mentor and project team work closely together and meet regularly to get an expert perspective throughout the project. Once the project reaches implementation stage, your mentor can help you find resources and avenues to implement your project!
      • Mid/high time commitment: Meet 1-2 times throughout the term.
    • Share resources and provide accountability to teams and leads.
      • Many studios have questions about how the studio can use available campus resources. Regular studio leadership meetings with a mentor can help your studio acquire materials, secure meeting space, navigate your campus administration, and more!
      • High time commitment: Meet biweekly or 1-2 times a month.
  2. Define initial asks for a specific role the mentor can play in your studio.
    • Define what types of mentors would be most helpful right now, and make realistic goals for your leadership team to improve your studio.
  3. Identify potential mentors on your campus or in your local community.
    • If you have an existing mentor, ask the mentor for recommendations on people to reach out to.
  4. Reach out to mentors.
    • Check out “Reach out to Community Partners” for inspiration on ways to draft your reach out email! Adjust the roles to fit the studio and the mentor and finalize next steps. If there are questions or uncertainty, be sure to work with your mentors to find the best role for them!
  5. Introduce your studio to the new mentor + thank them for their support.
    • Share this Mentor Welcome Flyer to tell them about the DFA Network.
    • Tell your studio about the mentor, what role they will play in the studio, and how they can help the teams.
    • A proper introduction to mentors goes a long way to developing a long term relationship. Schedule an in-person meeting or send a welcome paragraph/video to the mentors to welcome them properly and show that you appreciate their contribution!

Network Best Practices

Scope project with mentors like DFA Rice

Matthew Wettergreen, a DFA Rice mentor who is a lecturer at Rice University School of Engineering, mentors the studio in project scoping, project progress and implementation, and strategic planning. With his support, DFA Rice aims to scope projects with feasible access to user groups for research and testing. He helped studio leads envision possible outcomes of the projects to help pitch their project to partners, users, and potential project members. Additionally, he pulled some of his contacts for potential community partners and train leaders in creating partnerships with users. Building relationships with users in the scoping process were especially important since the goal of the semester was to test regularly with users iterate their solutions and get better at the process by going through them often.

Receive guidance on studio's logistical and strategic operations like DFA Virginia Tech

Phyllis Newbill, a Studio Associate at Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, serves as a mentor for DFA Virginia Tech to foster the creative process and support community initiatives. One of the many things Phyllis has done for the studio includes helping them with strategic help to create on-campus partnerships and maintain them. While she was curating and planning a series of community showcases, Tech or Treat, which is an event for kids of all ages at the intersection of science, engineering, art, and design, stood out as an opportunity to get the DFA studio involved. In 2014, two DFA teams held a design sprint at Tech or Treat reaching over 300 kids! Phyllis was crucial in making these successful installations happen.