Mentors: Your Graduate School Compass

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 by Elisha Hall

Graduate school offers many opportunities to connect with faculty and experts in your field. Perhaps the most vital of those connections is your faculty mentor.

As a graduate student, I’ve been guided by a wise and supportive faculty member who’s helped me develop as a student and as a professional. I’ve gained valuable experience and knowledge that will help me on my journey during and long after graduate school.

How to be a good mentee

Take the initiative to search out a mentor at the beginning of your graduate career. Find a mentor who fits your interests, goals, and needs by socializing with faculty, reading faculty publications, and observing how faculty interact with students. Meet with potential mentors to learn about them and establish rapport.

Search out the perfect fit for you, even if this means finding more than one mentor. Faculty members have different experiences, personalities, and areas of expertise. You’ll most likely find that a combination of mentors best fits your needs.

Benefits of being mentored

A mentor shares their wisdom about the graduate experience. The new teaching experience, the hiccup in your research, the overall unfamiliarity with graduate studies—your mentor knows it all. By sharing their experiences, they'll help you navigate your academic journey

Seize the opportunities your mentor gives you.  Your mentor wants to see you succeed, so the academic and professional experiences they arrange for you are in your best interest.

Your mentor is interested in you as a person. Mentoring is more than just helping you pick classes and reviewing your research—it’s listening to your goals, both personal and professional, and looking out for your well-being. Your mentor’s in your corner, cheering you on to succeed.

Mentors prepare you for your career. Whether it’s introducing you to a network of contacts, guiding you through your first publication, or assisting with application documents, your mentor prepares you for success in the job search and beyond.

The combination of the interpersonal and professional relationship a mentor shares with you is an invaluable connection during your graduate career. Mentors are your biggest advocates and are truly invested in your success. Start interacting with the faculty in your department early to find a mentor who will guide you on your journey.

Read More About Mentoring

Other Graduate Connections articles about mentoring
UNL Mentoring Handbook