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“motivated,” and “self-confident,” have to do with the men- tor’s position within his/her field of expertise. The study il- lustrates that mentees are as interested in having a mentor who expends as much effort on behalf of others as in acquir- ing additional knowledge. Interpersonal skills (not covered as part of a regular graduate curriculum!) appear to be at least as important as productivity.
Mentoring Across the
Academic Spectrum
We have discussed various principles of effective mentoring, but we recognize that mentorship is more art than science and the most effective mentoring occurs when environments and roles are adapted to mesh mentor strengths and mentee needs. However, we have also learned through experience that mentoring is not only important at every academic step but that it that benefits from thinking and discussing what constitutes good mentoring and being a good mentee at each stage. In this section, we describe mentoring issues that are more specific to the different stages of academia. We begin with the most common scenario for ASA members, that of mentoring a graduate student. We then proceed to undergraduate student, postdoc, and finally junior faculty members.
Graduate Student Mentoring
An incoming graduate student is met with a number of changes that might be a total paradigm shift from his/her undergraduate experience: courses are fewer but more de- manding, teaching and/or research assistantship responsi- bilities must be balanced with coursework, compensation is often not hourly, externally funded research is associated with strict deadlines, and the amount and level of writing re- quired has dramatically increased. Many graduate students struggle with the transition.
During Initiation, it is important that the mentor and men- tee agree on a vision for the mentee’s development while completing research and a set of expectations about how to achieve that vision. Short-term goals help the student de- velop into a semi-independent researcher, but it is helpful if the mentor understands that the mentee is unfamiliar with this mode of operation and that his/her likely frame of refer- ence, an undergraduate education, was not like this. Thus, an evaluation and a “reboot” of vision, expectations, and goals is often necessary after several weeks of the student navigat- ing this new environment. Not laying out or revisiting clear expectations and objectives can lead to the somewhat-hu- morous-but-all-too-real situations that are the subjects of academia-themed comics (e.g.,
During the Cultivation phase of a graduate degree, the mentor would do well to encourage the establishment of a meaningful graduate committee that can help expand the student’s network of mentors. Frequent evaluations and measurable milestones are essential for timely progress. The mentor must help identify the required skills that are lacking in the student and help him/her overcome deficiencies. One
 Figure 4. Desirable mentor characteristics. Adapted from Al- len and Poteet (1999).
Mentor and Mentee Responsibilities
To this point, we have focused primarily on the mentor in describing the mentoring relationship. We think it is also critical to review key responsibilities of both mentor and mentee together. It is the responsibility of the mentor to be genuinely interested in the long-term achievement of the mentee’s potential and not only during the cultivation phase of the mentoring relationship. The mentor should be willing to go out of his/her way to help the mentee be successful at any stage. The mentor strives to fill the roles in Figure 1 while attaining the characteristics described in Figure 3. True mentorship rests in selflessness.
Equal responsibility rests with the mentee. The mentee must be willing to be challenged, pushed, and evaluated at every step of his/her development. A mentee should acknowledge and respect the efforts of the mentor to help him or her ex- cel, which should serve as a powerful motivator to work hard to achieve agreed-upon objectives, receive construc- tive criticism, and provide feedback to the mentor. Studies have shown that novice mentees are often ill-prepared to re- ceive the benefits of a mentoring relationship; perhaps this situation can be partially ameliorated if prospective mentees understand at the outset the key elements and benefits of mentorship.
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