Carnegie Mellon University

Advisor Resources

SLICE supports its community of advisors through training and resources to help them serve as support systems to Carnegie Mellon’s large population of organizations. We achieve this through discussions and trainings on relevant areas of interest, regular communication, and by sharing research and best practices for advisors, as well as individual support when situations arise.

How to Be a Successful Advisor

A successful advisor can look different depending on the organization’s mission, function and needs. Review some of the best practices that SLICE has compiled for advisors.

Know your group. An advisor should be familiar with the mission and vision of the organization and should understand their short and long term goals. Understanding where they want to go will help you ask the right questions and provide the appropriate resources to get them there.

Build relationships with your leaders through communication. Some groups will prefer recurring meetings, some will want to email questions, and others will want you to connect them to resources and the community. The best way to find out how to help your group is to ask.
Be in tune with the flow of the year by following the student organization timeline. There are many dates that your group(s) will need to keep track of for trainings and processes. While we do not want you to do these things for students, you should know when the funding cycle occurs and when they need to complete Student Government’s annual re-recognition process.
Be a resource in regards to university policies, regulations and services. You do not need to memorize every rule, but you should know how to find the answer.
Assist officers with maintaining the continuity of information. Remind your members that passing along information and sharing their successes as well as areas of learning with incoming executive board members is what helps the organization thrive long term.
Be visible. Advisors are encouraged to attend meetings and events to show support. You do not need to be at everything, but your presence reinforces to the groups that you are invested in their work.
Be a sounding board, especially for officers, and supportive of all members. Listening is a major responsibility of being an advisor. You do not need to solve all of their problems, but the opportunity to talk through their issues and questions with you is invaluable.
Find the line between being involved versus overly involved. Remember, the day-to-day operations of the organization should remain the responsibility of the officers/members, not the advisor.
Engage with the community of campus advisors. Attend the advisor luncheons to discuss with fellow advisors some of your questions and successes, and SLICE is always willing to talk through a complicated situation or answer a basic question for you.

Topics to Cover with Your Organization

SLICE encourages advisors to cover the topics below each year with your organization in order to develop the most productive relationship.

  • What is the mission and vision of your organization?
  • What are some of your short and long term goals? What timeline will you achieve those goals?
  • How active is this organization (meetings, events, service, etc.)?
  • What are some of this organization’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you transition or pass information along to newly elected leaders?
  • What are you looking for in an advisor?
  • How often do you want to meet and what do you want to discuss during these meetings?
  • What is the most effective way for us to communicate (email, text message, in person meetings, etc.)?

Resources & Best Practices

Success in Young Orgs Worksheet (pdf)
As a young campus organization, figuring out how to get started and maintain momentum can be a challenge. This worksheet is structured to help your organization leadership clarify purpose, identify key policies and processes relevant to your organization, and set you up for success for years to come.

On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far
Pew Research Center

Assisting Officer Transitions (pdf)
One of the most important functions of an advisor is to assist in the transition from one set of student organization officers to the next. (Resource from the University of Florida)

Request a Training 

SLICE staff will meet one-on-one with advisors for trainings. Email the SLICE Office if there are specific trainings you are interested in. Potential trainings include:

  • Organization finances
  • Travel policies and processes
  • CMU technology: understanding 25Live, The Bridge and more
  • Risk management
  • Event planning and management