What is your motivation?
Are you interested in working with junior researchers who have stimulating ideas, who would benefit from opportunities to learn and grow with and from you? Good mentors engage with promising people with promising ideas about an area of research related to their work to deepen their translational reach and understanding. What do you need in order to bring your best self forward as a mentor? Gain insight into your decision process by writing a mentoring philosophy for your own reflection, which you can also share with potential mentees.
Do you have time to mentor?
Like all relationships, mentoring takes a significant investment of time. To help you assess whether you are willing to make that investment, ask yourself these questions when considering whether to take on a new mentee.
What are mentees looking for?
The supports mentors provide are many, and you should not feel as if you need to meet each of the needs for every mentee. Instead, help potential mentees understand what it is you can provide and determine what unmet needs other mentors might provide as part of a mentor team. To help you determine the mentee’s needs and your own resources, consider common roles and expectations for mentors and mentees as a starting point.
How can you get started?
The initial conversations between you and your mentee set the tone for the relationship. The focus should be on who you are as individuals and what you each bring to the relationship (your background, context, culture, strengths, etc). To help ensure your conversation is comprehensive, consider the questions and strategies for your initial mentoring conversations included in the Initial Conversations document linked below. Remember that development of the mentee is the key focus of the mentoring relationship; having the mentee complete an Individual Development Plan will help the mentee articulate their desires and needs and will give you both a clear place from which to begin your conversations.
Should you consider team mentoring?
The days of a singular mentoring dyad are quickly passing. Limited time and the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of science are among the external forces that are encouraging mentors to combine forces with colleagues to meet the diverse needs of a singular mentee, allowing each mentor to leverage their strengths. Learn more about team mentoring.
How can you become a more effective mentor?
Strong mentorship has been linked to enhanced mentee productivity, self-efficacy, career satisfaction, and is an important predictor of the academic success of scientists in training. Despite this, mentoring is typically learned by example, trial and error, and peer observation.
To address this lack of training, several research institutions have developed curricula to help mentors learn to effectively establish expectations, consider issues of human diversity, and develop a reflective approach to mentoring: