In many cases the professional relationship you form with your mentor will influence your entire career. A mentor not only shares knowledge and skills, but also becomes a bridge between your academic career and your future professional community.

Mentors also:

  • Help identify potential obstacles before they become roadblocks
  • Take an interest in your career and your personal well-being
  • Understand your academic and professional goals and helps you move toward them

Finding a mentor

Relationship comes before mentorship. Before you ask someone to be a mentor, get to know them. Someone who shares your research, scholarly or creative interests is a good candidate to become a mentor.

  • Look for mentors who share some of your background and experiences, but don't shy away from a mentor of a different race, ethnicity or gender.
  • Consider your own strengths and know where you need help
  • Aim for a team of 3-4 mentors who can complement each other and help promote your success.

Working with a mentor

Be professional. Faculty members are very busy, so show up on time for meetings, come prepared and don't overstay your appointment.

  • Communicate your goals
  • Agree on expectations and commitments
  • Ask for professional development advice and act on it

Managing challenges

  • Be open to hearing other people's experiences
  • Address problems immediately, and in person
  • Your perspective may not fit the academic canon in your field. Be prepared to show the value and relevance of new lines of inquiry


How to Get the Mentoring You Want - University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School