A few weeks ago, Ellen Meader, who works closely with the faculty committee behind Mentoring Others Results in Excellence (MORE), posted on the topic of improving communication with your faculty mentor. My guess is that many readers wondered how to even find a mentor. For some students it seems to occur effortlessly from the first year on. For most, though, that’s not the case. Here are some suggestions based on the research I’ve done for MORE—and my own experience working with graduate students.
Start the process by undertaking a critical self-appraisal. You must understand what you personally need to thrive as a graduate student before you can recognize who might meet those needs. Ask yourself, and discuss with people who know you well, such questions as:
- What are my objectives in entering graduate school?
- What skills do I need to develop?
- What kinds of research or creative projects will engage me?
- How much independent versus team work do I want to do?
- What type of career do I want to pursue?
The answers to these questions will help you identify what you might like to accomplish with a potential faculty mentor. My next post will address strategies in identifying possible mentors. In the meantime, you can read more about how to find a mentor in How to Get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students, created for you by Rackham. And you may want to take a look at the companion volume, How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty. It never hurts to think about the other side!
About the Author
Pat McCune, Senior Project Manager, Rackham Graduate School
Published in: Professional Development