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Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities

The word mentor comes from Greek mythology. Mentor, a close friend and counselor of Odysseus, advised and trained Odysseus's son Telemachus during Odysseus's long absence. In the realm of academic scholarship, a mentor has extensive research experience and helps a younger scholar develop research skills and a research career. Mentoring typically involves a close relationship between two scholars with markedly different levels of experience, modeling of research and career skills, and explicit discussion and development of those skills. Although the roles can overlap, mentors are different from friends, teachers, or advisors.

The Mentoring Role

Mentors often provide guidance in the following areas:

• Technical understanding and skills
• Research ethics
• Progress in graduate programs
• Development of research projects
• Meeting colleagues
• Understanding cultures of disciplines
• Opportunities to present or publish work
• Opportunities for postdoctoral training and career positions
• Interacting with funding agencies and obtaining funding

As the breadth of this list suggests, young scholars rarely find one individual who can mentor them in all areas. However, finding a constellation of people and resources to provide guidance in all these areas can be critical to a successful research career. Recognizing the importance of mentorship, some graduate programs seek to establish means for their students to obtain guidance without relying on the luck of finding a single excellent mentor.

Being Mentored

While mentors have responsibilities to share knowledge and experience with younger scholars and respect their rights, mentors also have rights and expect younger scholars to take on certain responsibilities. To foster mentoring relationships, a younger scholar can:

• Approach appropriate senior scholars

• Be diligent in studies and scholarship

• Understand the formal requirements of programs and universities

• Maintain regular contact with advisors and mentors

• Respect boundaries of advisors and mentors

• Hear constructive criticism gracefully

• Follow thoughtful advice

KeywordsMentor and Trainee Responsibilities   Doc ID33392
OwnerHeather M.GroupVCRGE and Graduate School
Created2013-09-16 13:01:33Updated2017-09-11 13:37:18
SitesVCRGE and Graduate School
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