Finding mentors to meet your career development needs can be an overwhelming task. You will more than likely require a number of mentors – a career mentor, a research mentor, or a personal life mentor. A few helpful tips will start you off on the right track.
- In order to get the most from your mentoring relationship, develop a mind-set that allows you to learn from everyone around you.
- Don’t limit your mentors to people who look like you and think like you. Often the best mentors are those who can see many sides of complex issues and offer new lines of sight.
- Effective mentors listen closely for what isn’t said and ask great questions. They are curious and empathic and free from conflict of interest.
- Seek mentors who are able to provide insights about your strengths and weaknesses and challenge you to move beyond your comfort zone.
- Look for individuals who have skills complementary to your weaknesses. Have a frank discussion with a potential mentor about his or her skills and weaknesses.
- Look for individuals around you who ask the tough provocative questions and give fair and honest feedback.
- Look for individuals who can serve as your advocate and open doors to new learning opportunities, resources and career connections.
- Understand a potential mentor’s national and institutional commitments.
- Check for a track record of successful research funding or academic scholarship in your area of interest. Use NIH and OHSU databases to check for potential mentors funded in your area of interest. Read publications for more information about a potential mentor’s expertise and focus.
- Consider whether multiple mentors or a team of mentors that convene together are best for your mentoring needs.