Posted May 1, 2022 by Heidi Uhing
At an April 12 faculty connector during Student Research Days, a faculty panel shared advice for their colleagues about how best to mentor students. Presenters were: Kristi Montooth, Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of biological sciences; Angie Pannier, professor of biomedical engineering; and Hans Sturm, professor in the Glenn Korff School of Music. The following is a summary of the advice they provided.
Mentoring is a shared relationship that faculty benefit from as much as students. A good mentor/mentee relationship should feel empowering, encouraging and receptive, with a deep sense of shared responsibility in working toward a goal. This relationship requires trust, time and listening. Treat it as a collaboration. It’s not about one person’s expertise being put on someone else, but instead about asking: What do we need to be successful?
Many international graduate students haven’t been home for a long time due to the pandemic, and there’s a lot that mentors can do to provide a sense of family. Learn about and embrace students’ cultures and consider how you could include or join them in holiday celebrations. Make time for your research team members to learn from each other about where they come from.
- When you’re a mentor, you’re also a friend. It crosses into a personal relationship.
- Be patient. Developing these relationships takes time.
- Discuss shared expectations. Consider providing a written expectations policy.
- If you are asking a mentee to do something, you should be willing to do it, too.
- Have social events so your graduate students can connect with each other.
- Graduate students are most successful when they feel supported and connected.
- Don’t provide opportunities only to those who ask for them.
- Encourage students to be fearless. Empower them to try new things.
- Mentors should communicate that they believe in students and are proud of them.