Finding a quality mentor is one of the most — maybe the most — important thing you can do in graduate school. A good mentor can make your career fly like an eagle, or plummet like a rock. But, despite the importance of mentorship in career building, we receive no training on what to look for when selecting a mentor.
Here are nine things that I wish someone had told me about mentoring during grad school, to help you find the mentorship you need.
1. Your ideal career should guide your mentorship choices. What do you want to do? Find someone that already has your ideal job and ask them to mentor you.
2. Just one isn’t enough. No one can do it all, so build a team of mentors. Each mentor will have strengths and weaknesses; learn from their strengths, and supplement their weaknesses.
3. It should be reciprocal. Mentorship is a two way street. If it isn’t reciprocal, it isn’t mentorship. Be mindful of keeping both sides of the relationship balanced, and beware if your mentor is the one unbalancing it.
4. Don’t deify. Mentors are just people. They don’t know everything. They will make mistakes and need feedback on their performance too… unless your mentor is Morgan Freeman… that dude is amazing.
5. Don’t fall for brands. Famous people/popular mentors are often busy already. Find someone who can spend time working with YOU.
6. Don’t fear the peer. Other students will have great insights and will probably be open to sharing their knowledge with you. Ask for their advice, and help them out too.
7. Letting them push you is a good thing. A good mentor sets a high bar for you. But they should also do whatever it takes to make sure you reach it.
8. They should be an inspiration. Find someone who makes you excited, even when the work is hard. They should motivate you to become a better professional, and hopefully also make you a better person.
9. Don’t be shy. The worst thing someone can say when you ask them to be your mentor is “no.”
Want to learn more about how to find and keep a good mentor? Come to the program on mentorship at APA Convention in Toronto, Thursday August, 6th from 2-3:50 in Convention Centre Room 716A.
What do you think? Do you have other advice you would like to share? Comment below!
Editor’s Note: Daniel Reimer, MA, is Chair of the APAGS Convention Committee and a doctoral student at the University of Nevada – Reno.