Making the Mentor Experience Better

We’re starting to gear up for both GSoC and new OpenMRS Fellowships for 2022. Our long history with GSoC has shown how important a well designed project is to a good GSoC experience. Last year, we made changes to improve the student/fellow experience.

We also learned that having the right mentor paired with the right student (or fellow) is equally important. This year, I’d like to shift our focus to mentors, both in terms of matching mentors with projects and onboarding/supporting mentors throughout the project period.

:ear: I’d like to hear from anyone who has been a mentor or had a good mentor:

  1. What are the key characteristics of a good mentor?

  2. How can we make the mentor experience better?

:bulb:And I’d like to hear ideas about how we might identify the right mentor (and backup mentor) and assign mentors to the right project & the right contributor/fellow.

@burke @dkayiwa @ibacher @mozzy @herbert24 @grace


A right Mentor should be up to date, (meaning should take time to know new ideas) .

He / She should have a background of his or her experience .


Ideally, the primary mentor for a project would be someone who is excited about the project, able to provide some technical guidance on the project, and reliably have 1-3 hours a week available to mentor. In many cases, the person proposing the project would be a good start, but that doesn’t have to be a hard & fast rule as long as the primary mentor is both interested and familiar enough with the technical details to provide mentorship.


Thanks @jennifer for bring up this!

Unlike GSoC projects which do have both primary mentors and back up mentors, fellowship program is slightly different with only one mentor for the fellow. This requires the mentor to be well versed with the project and has time reliably 4-5 hours a week available to mentor.

Communication: Mentors having a streamlined weekly communication with their student/fellow excel in their mentor-ship as this helps them know what the student/fellow is working on and being in position to track the progress. And on the other side of the coin, helps the student/fellow to be in position to access the mentors for support when needed.

Would love to hear what other fellowship champions have to say about the subject? cc: @sharif @jwnasambu @suruchi @hadijah315 @mozzy @gcliff


Thanks @burke for the clarification. Just to add on your contribution a mentor requires a combination of passion, responsibility and patience. A good mentor is willing to engage with the student throughout their learning process if he/she misses then the student is under-mentored. Besides, the back-up mentor is to walk hand in hand with the primary mentor to understand the project scope clearly so as to provide help to the student when the primary mentor is missing of which I believe is between the two and no protocol followed.