The success of mentoring relationships depends not only on faculty but also on you as the mentee, as these relationships are reciprocal. Faculty and graduate students who communicate shared expectations for the mentoring relationship generally fare better than those who do not.
Here are some specific steps you can take to get the mentoring you need:
- Be intentional in seeking out a mentor and in establishing a mentoring relationship.
- Gather information from other graduate students and former graduate students about their mentoring experiences with specific faculty.
- Be clear about your expectations.
- Listen carefully to your mentor’s expectations and boundaries.
- Set realistic deadlines for your work and be sure to meet them.
- Come prepared for meetings. Articulate what specifcally you need from your mentor.
- Write up notes after each meeting and provide your mentor with a summary.
- Start the next meeting off with a summary of the last meeting.
- Be clear about your professional goals and share those with your mentor.
- When seeking feedback, be specific about areas you would like comment on.
- Be open to and learn from constructive criticism.
- Develop multiple mentoring relationships. No one mentor can serve all of your needs.
The following resources are available to assist you in developing good mentoring relationships.
Great Mentoring in Graduate School: A quick start guide for protégés, Council of Graduate Schools
Includes helpful advice and tips on a range of topics such as identifying a mentor, engaging with mentors to develop a professional identify, cultivating networks, and serving as a mentor to others.
How to Get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students, University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School
A detailed guide to developing effective mentoring relationships: how to find mentors, how to articulate your needs, general guidelines, advice on initial meetings, and much more.
- A Brief Guide to Graduate Student Mentoring for students & their mentors, University of Pittsburgh
Offers concise advice about how to choose a mentor, how to prepare for mentoring meetings, etc.