Mentorship Lunches

Open, candid conversations between undergraduates interested in pursuing graduate studies in the chemical sciences and current graduate students

Program Overview
The Chemistry Department’s Office of Undergraduate Research is continuing Lunch with a Graduate Student, a mentoring program funded by the ACS Diversity, Equity and Respect Grant, for the fall 2023 semester. The goal of the program is to foster open, candid conversations between undergraduates interested in the chemical sciences and current graduate students. These conversations will occur over a provided meal from a restaurant on campus scheduled at the undergraduate student’s convenience. These mentoring lunches will provide a platform to discuss navigating issues such as social dynamics, career paths, and timelines in graduate school. A targeted goal of the program is to connect students with mentors who may share similar identities and experiences.

Information for Mentees (Undergraduates)
Undergraduates of any interest level are encouraged to apply. The application form will be released on September 29, 2023. This program is an excellent opportunity to learn key “soft” skills necessary for success in graduate school such as navigating social dynamics and making connections.

Applicants will be notified by late October whether they have been chosen to participate in the program and will be contacted by their graduate student mentors. The mentor will reach out to the mentee to arrange a mutually acceptable date and time between November 1st and November 22nd for the mentorship meeting. Mentees will choose whether to have the mentorship meeting at Subway (either Subway location), Aldo’s Cafe, or the Wisconsin Union (either Union South or Memorial Union).

Although the purpose of the program is to generate genuine, organic conversations, a list of example discussion topics can be found at the right of this page. Within one week of the meeting, mentees will also be required to fill out a short reflection form (which will be posted here and sent out by email later). Although we will do our best to match undergraduates with graduate student volunteers who share provided identities (e.g. gender or LGBTQ+ identity, racial or ethnic background, family/parental status, etc.), we cannot ensure that any or all identities will be common between mentor and mentee.

Information for Mentors (Graduate Students)
All graduate students in the chemical sciences are encouraged to apply to be mentors by filling out a short application form available in mid-October. This is a great leadership and mentorship opportunity and will include a free lunch. If chosen as a mentor, you will receive an email and be asked to contact your mentee to arrange a suitable date and time for the mentorship lunch meeting. The location (Subway, Aldo’s, or Wisconsin Union) will already be chosen by the mentee, but the mentor and mentee will have to decide together which Subway or Wisconsin Union location is preferred. Mentors will be tasked with picking up meal gift cards for mentorship meetings in early November and bringing them to the mentorship meeting day-of.

Shared Expectations for both Mentees and Mentors
This program seeks to facilitate honest, low-stress, and friendly conversations between undergraduates and graduate students in a timeframe ranging from one to two hours. A $30 gift card will be provided to cover the combined cost of both the mentor and mentee’s meals. It is expected that both mentor and mentee will be respectful of one another and any personal information that is shared. Information related to personal identities collected in the application form will be reported in aggregate (anonymous) form to the ACS. There is no obligation for either the mentor or mentee to maintain contact or further develop a mentor/mentee relationship after the lunch meeting.

Fall 2023 Timeline
October 13: application due date for mentees
October 16: application open for graduate students
Late October: notification of mentor/mentee assignments
Early November: mentors will pick up gift cards
Nov. 1 – Nov 22: mentoring meetings occur
Within one week after mentoring meeting: mentee must fill out reflection form

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to Riley Kelch or Willa Mihalyi-Koch at or

Students eat lunch

Mentee Application Form (Due October 13)

Mentor Application Form (Due October 20)

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Example Discussion Topics/Questions during Mentoring Meeting

General introductions

Why did you pursue graduate school? How is it preparing you for your career goals?

What does your daily or weekly schedule look like as a grad student?

How do you maintain your work-life balance as a grad student?

What are some lessons or skills, expected or unexpected, that you have learned in grad school?

Are there any struggles that you have successfully overcome as a grad student?

Has your background or identity had any impact on your graduate experience or the graduate school you chose?

What did you look for when choosing graduate programs at UW-Madison? 

What skills/experiences would you recommend pursuing as an undergraduate to be successful in graduate school?

What expectations does your mentor have for you as a graduate student? 

Who have you sought out as mentors in graduate school? How did you start those relationships?

What skills/attributes do students who are successful in graduate school typically have? How can I develop these skills/attributes if I don’t already have these?