Becoming an Effective Mentor

 Throughout the disciplines, mentors advise and support undergraduate students, graduate students and junior faculty in many ways throughout their careers.  Mentors are also peers, who are aware of the mentees' current issues and provide mutual feedback.  Below we offer some tips to consider in becoming a more effective mentor.  These tips are useful for mentees to consider in developing their relationship with their mentors and as characteristics to look for when finding new mentors.

  • Support & Motivate: An effective mentor strikes a balance between pushing & prodding by both challenging their mentees and providing support. For example, she might say, "Here are the things you need to do better, and let me help you get there.”
  • Connect & Promote: An effective mentor introduces their mentees to people, grants, research and journals important in their field and connects them with others who can support their career. 
  • Trust: An effective mentor trusts their mentees' abilities and doesn’t micromanage.
  • Be Constructive: An effective mentor provides authentic advice and feedback helping each mentee to set realistic expectations and act on helpful feedback. They also provide a broader perspective, helping their mentees identify and navigate long term goals.
  • Be Proactive: An effective mentor knows when something isn't working and speaks up early to let the mentee know.
  • Be Generous: An effective mentor is someone who may not be directly involved in the mentees' research, but is attuned to the context of their work and trajectory, and willing to provide helpful, objective feedback.  They care about the well being of each mentee as a person in addition to their academic development.
  • Communicate: An effective mentor responds to requests and communicates their availability to their mentees.

 For more information about mentoring students in research see the Guidelines on Research Mentoring

 Other pages that might be of interest: