How Can a Mentor Help?
Mentors can be powerful personal and career development assets in helping the mentee realize their life’s goals. As trusted counselors or guides, their roles can be multifaceted and can evolve as the mentee’s needs change. They serve as role models, sources of emotional support and sounding boards. A mentor can help graduate students by:
- Providing timely guidance and advice
- Lending an ear
- Inspiring the mentee onto greatness
- Being honest, open and approachable
- Encourage the mentee to explore different career options
- Advising the mentee on professional development
- Helping the student develop leadership skills
- Introducing the mentee to vital networking opportunities
Your mentor can be anyone who brings value to your life, including staff and faculty member, fellow students, friends, family members and business or community leaders. They are there to help share an “insiders” perspective about your field.
Setting Real Expectations for a Mentoring Relationship
A good mentor will help you funnel your priorities and ideas into the larger context of experiencing a successful academic career. You may even have to make an adjustment to accepting positive and helpful criticism. Your work may be challenged by a mentor. Avoid the common reaction of becoming defensive. Communicate with your mentor to make sure that each one’s expectations of the other are clear. Make sure that mutually agreed upon goals are reachable.
Finding the Right Mentor
Finding the right mentor is tandem to having narrowed down specific reasons. Is your need for mentorship linked to career advice? Are you looking for tips on how to study more effectively? Are you looking for assistance in building a network of peers, colleagues and associates you can rely on throughout your career? Whatever the reason, your mentor can help you assimilate your academic experiences and share the ultimate insider’s view on how things get accomplished.
Thanking Your Mentor
Your mentor will have spent quality time helping build your self-esteem, academic success and career readiness. He or she deserves your appreciation. Thank them in a letter, through a gift or over dinner. Your biggest “thank-you” will be your success in having achieved your mutual goals.