As a mentee, how can you get the mentoring you want and need? The tips offered below should help you evaluate your mentor match and find the right match for you.
Step 1: Assess your goals and needs
- What characteristics and qualities are you looking for in a mentor?
- What do you want to get out of the mentoring relationship? Research skills/professional development? Additional advice & support? A combination?
- What role do you want your mentor to play in your life?
- How much time do you have to devote to your research and work with your mentor?
- Have you had mentors in the past? Evaluate these relationships.
Step 2: Do your research on your current and/or potential mentors
- Look at the mentor’s biography, CV, website, publications, LinkedIn profile
- If possible talk to current or former mentees of possible mentors about their personality and work style
- Ask the mentor about their mentorship philosophy and style. Does this match what you are looking for in a mentor?
- Ask your mentor about their lab culture. What is the group’s style and size? Are there other UROPs in the group? How often with you connect with the faculty member, the overall lab group?
Step 3: Articulate your short and long-term goals
- How can this mentor help you achieve them?
- How will the given research project help you develop the skills and experience you seek?
- Are you happy working on this type of project with this group?
Step 4: Evaluate the Match
- Research collaborations should be pleasant educational experiences. Sometimes the work style or mentorship/teaching philosophy of a given mentor might not be a good fit for your needs.
- If a given research project, research responsibilities, mentoring philosophy or dynamic of a certain lab group doesn’t feel like a good fit for you and your interests, then continue your search until you find a project that you will enjoy and a group with whom you feel very comfortable collaborating.
- Remember, research groups vary in many ways—lab size, management styles, lab and mentor personalities, etc. so finding a lab that is a good fit is important. Don’t commit to UROPs based on research interests and learning objectives alone—consider your collaboration preferences and the mentorship match as well.