ESA Mentorship Program

Program Information

The ESA Mentorship Program (MESA) aims to establish a robust culture of support for staff who work in the Energy Sciences Area, and to facilitate their success, growth, and engagement at the Lab through one-on-one mentor–mentee relationships.

With assistance from a volunteer committee, MESA advances professional support in the Area by matching mentors and mentees and facilitating their training. Participants of all levels of experience are given the opportunity to build broader networks, explore new challenges, and gain fresh perspectives on their career development, goals, and Berkeley Lab.

Participation in the MESA program is open to most staff in all types of roles who work in the Area (eligibility requirements are below). Please refer to the tabs below for more details on the matching process and timeline.

Office hours: If you have questions, please drop in for MESA “office hours”:

  • February 6 from 12-1 pm, Zoom

  • February 7 from 3:30-4:00 pm, Zoom.

Training Session: A training session will be held on March 20, 2023, from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Join Zoom meeting

Registration for the 2023 MESA program is now open. The deadline to register is Friday, February 17. If interest exceeds capacity, sign-ups received by February 10 will be prioritized for participation. The 2023 program will run from March 2023 – February 2024. Mentor/Mentee matches will be sent out in early March.

"I really enjoyed participating as a mentee. Among the topics that came up was how to advance my career, but we also spent a good amount of time on real issues that I am facing right now. I got some really good advice, but it was also helpful just to be able to talk through certain things with somebody more experienced than me but who wasn't directly involved and could look at the situation more objectively."

— MESA mentee

What Is Mentorship?

Mentorship is a protected relationship in which a more knowledgeable or experienced person guides and nurtures the professional development or growth of another, outside the normal manager/subordinate line management. Its focus goes beyond learning specific competencies or tasks and builds a climate of trust so the mentee can feel secure to seek advice on issues impacting their professional success.

Mentorship achieves its goals primarily by listening with empathy, sharing experiences, developing insight through reflection, and encouraging the mentee to take actions towards the achievement of self-driven goals. As such the relationship is mentee-driven, with a clear definition of goals and expectations that are mutually agreed with the mentor. It is attentive to the mentee’s values and needs, and respectful of the mentor’s time, resources, and experience.

A mentoring relationship may address such topics as:

  • Career development

  • Scientific and technical development

  • Networking/building professional relationships

  • Leadership development

  • Management and supervision

  • Adjusting to a new position

  • Work–life balance

  • Managing interpersonal relationships at work

  • Navigating the LBNL organizational structure and operations

  • Cultural exchange

  • Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace

  • Professional development

  • Retirement planning

Who should be a mentee?

Consider signing up to be a mentee if you're seeking professional development or guidance and are prepared to initiate setting goals and expectations for your mentoring relationship.

Who should be a mentor?

By definition, a mentor is a more experienced or knowledgeable person who guides and nurtures the development of a less experienced mentee. However, mentors are not necessarily more senior than the people they mentor.

Consider signing up to be a mentor if you have specific experience or knowledge that others can learn from.

Being a mentor provides the opportunity to:

  • Improve your management skills—particularly advisory and supporting skills—in a safe environment

  • Learn about the perspectives and views of others

  • Impart your knowledge and experience to someone who will benefit

Eligibility & Program Capacity

Who can participate?

  • Staff in all types of roles who are hired or supervised within ESA are eligible, with the exception of the following:

    • Students and affiliates are not currently eligible to participate. The targeted group will be revisited in subsequent offerings.

    • Staff newly hired at the Lab in the last 6 months are eligible to be mentees only.

    • Rehired retirees are eligible to be mentors with division director approval.

  • Matrixed employees who spend 50% or more of their time working in ESA are eligible and encouraged to participate.

  • Postdocs based in ESA are eligible to participate. Postdocs whose appointments end before the program's conclusion may still be eligible; please fill out the sign-up form and indicate your expected appointment end date, and we will try to accommodate you.

  • Mentors will be drawn primarily from ESA. When a suitable mentor cannot be found within ESA, the committee will recruit potential mentors in other Areas of the Lab.


  • Capacity for participation in the MESA program is limited.

  • The committee will attempt to accommodate as many participants as possible.

  • If interest exceeds program capacity, participants will be selected based on a lottery, with allowance for balance across divisions, job classifications, roles, and responsibilities. Sign-ups received by the priority registration deadline (TBA), will be prioritized for participation.

  • If program capacity allows, an employee can participate both as a mentor and a mentee in the program.

"The program is rewarding. I enjoy transferring my knowledge and experience to others, as many have helped me on my career path. Hearing how other employees navigate their careers has broadened my perspective as well."

— MESA mentor

Matching Process

The MESA program coordinates mentor–mentee pairings.

  • Mentors and mentees apply to participate by filling out the MESA registration form.

  • The MESA committee will match mentors and mentees, guided by input from the registration form.

    • Matches will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone outside the committee unless both parties agree to do so and self-disclose.

    • Mentees will not be matched with their supervisor or work lead.

    • Job class and seniority will not play a role in matching, unless these factors are explicitly identified as important in the sign-up form.

    • The committee will actively seek to make matches across division boundaries, to help improve broader awareness and collaboration in the Energy Sciences Area.

  • Matched mentors and mentees will participate in a training workshop on March 20, 2023 from 1:00–2:00 pm.

  • Mentors and mentees continue to meet one-on-one for the duration of the program.

If interest exceeds program capacity, participants will be selected based on a lottery, with allowance for balance across divisions, job classifications, roles, and responsibilities. Registrations received by the priority deadline of February 10, will be prioritized for participation.

"The MESA program turned out to be very good, successful, and helpful. As a mentor, I was able to help my mentee make several new connections within the Lab, and for me, getting to know a colleague, her research interests, and that my mentoring helped a woman scientist making connections and further her career was personally very rewarding to me."

—MESA mentor

Program Expectations

The formal duration of the fourth cycle of this program is March 2023–February 2024, though relationships are encouraged to continue further if mutually beneficial. Postdocs whose terms end before the end of the year may still be eligible; please fill out the registration form and indicate your current end date, and we will try to accommodate you.

Mentees will not be matched with their supervisor or work lead, and HR will not keep records of matches. Mentors and mentees may disclose their participation in the program generally, without revealing their partner's name. If mutually agreed, the mentor and mentee can choose to disclose their relationship to a third party.

Mentors and mentees commit to:

  • Watch the recording of the Info session on MESA. If you have attended a MESA mentorship training in the past, this requirement is fulfilled.

  • Attend a training session on March 20 from 1–2 pm.

  • Jointly set expectations and time commitments. The recommended meeting frequency is 1 hour once or twice a month.

  • Provide a trustworthy, respectful, and confidential environment

  • Participate in a mid-program and end-of-program evaluation survey

Mentees commit to:

  • Embrace ownership and responsibility for their mentorship

  • Come prepared to meetings, with topics and goals identified and questions and ideas to explore

  • Be open to constructive feedback and learning new things

  • Seek counsel and advice while working towards independence

  • Be respectful of the mentor’s time and resources

Mentors commit to:

  • Value and respect differences and be culturally aware

  • Ask their mentee questions that will generate thought and guide them to find solutions rather than provide solutions

  • Encourage mentees to set the agenda and pace

Role and expectations of the MESA committee:

  • Design, advise, and promote the program

  • Match mentees and mentors

  • Maintain confidentiality of participants and information shared in the sign-up form

  • Be cognizant of bias and blindspots in the matching process

  • Field questions on the program

  • Review survey results and suggest improvements the program

Key Program Dates

COHORT 4 (March 2023February 2024)

January: Registration opens

February 10: Priority registration deadline. Applications received by this date will be prioritized if interest exceeds capacity.

February 17: Registration closes.

Early March: Pairing notifications sent to mentors and mentees; invitations to mentor/mentee training sent

March 20: Training session from 1:00 - 2:00 pm. Join Zoom meeting for a 1-hour mentor/mentee training. Program participants should attend or watch the recording.

August: Mid-program survey and check-ins

February 2024: Formal program ends*; End-of-program survey

"I personally think I've benefited a lot from the MESA program. Having someone on your side whom you know you can trust, whom you know would applaud for your career achievements and share your struggle is an amazing experience."

—MESA mentee


Registration for the fourth cohort of MESA (March 2023 – February 2024) will open shortly.


Please direct general questions to:

The ESA DEI committee serves as an advisory group for the MESA program. Matches are facilitated by ESA Office staff and senior HR partners.

Ashley White (ESA and ALS), MESA Program manager,

Ambily Rajappan (CSD/MSD/ESA HR),

Dina Michail (ALS/MFD HR),

Francesca Toma (CSD IDEA committee chair),

Hans Bechtel (ALS IDEA committee chair),

Liana Klivansky (MFD IDEA committee chair),

Marisa Davis (ESA),

Melissa Summers (ESA),

Terry Calarco (MSD DEI committee chair),

"The beauty of the program is that you can start a new relationship at the Lab without any bias and with someone in a different division. This provides multiple opportunities, such as to understand the Area from a new angle, gain insights into operation of other divisions, and gain access to a new networking pool. I highly recommend that you experience the program yourself!"

—MESA mentee