5 Benefits of Graduate Faculty Mentorship
Good news: you won’t go through your graduate program alone! Finding a faculty mentor is incredibly beneficial for a multitude of reasons, but today we’re discussing the top 5. From giving you the guidance that you need to be successful to providing valuable insight about your area of study, a graduate faculty mentor can help you achieve your academic potential while unlocking doors and facilitating meaningful connections within your industry.
Benefit 1: Your mentor can serve as a graduate school guide.
Graduate school is a new environment that can present different challenges that you aren’t used to. If you’re unsure about what to expect, your mentor can answer questions about your program and provide insight about the social and political environment at your institution. Chances are, your faculty mentor has worked at that institution long enough to see several cohorts of students navigate the process successfully. They may be able to give you some insider tips and tricks that help you do things more efficiently!
Benefit 2: Your mentor can serve as a career consultant.
As a faculty member, your mentor has experience in his or her field that can be valuable to you when determining what your long-term career goals are. They may have experience in research, publishing, writing, teaching, and plenty of other areas that could be beneficial for you to learn about. Their experience can inform your choices and serve as a roadmap for your next steps after graduate school. You don’t have to follow in their footsteps exactly, but you can learn from the steps they made in their career to inform how to make yours. Additionally, as someone who’s been working and is established in the field, they may be able to help you expand your professional network. It’s possible that your mentor has contacts across the industry and can introduce you to other professionals who can help you learn and achieve your goals.
Benefit 3: Your mentor can serve as a skill-builder.
Practically, your mentor can help you build your skills and knowledge in a particular area. Whether you want to write better, research more effectively, or learn a skill, they can teach you what they know to help you achieve those goals. A benefit to having a faculty mentor that is an expert in their field is that they have a lot of experiential knowledge that came from their career, not from a textbook. They will be able to help you develop practical skills and deepen your knowledge based on their own experience.
Benefit 4: Your mentor can serve as an editor or collaborator.
Another benefit to graduate faculty mentorship is that they can serve as an editor or collaborator in a variety of areas. Depending on the types of courses and assignments you complete, ask your mentor to review your work. They may be able to give you constructive criticism and help make your work better, which could ultimately lead to a better paper and a better grade. If your mentor has been published before or completed lengthy research, they will understand the process better than you if you are just beginning. Allow them to give their advice and help you along the way! Additionally, your mentor may be willing to collaborate with you on various projects, papers, or presentations. Having their name, as an established member of the field, as a co-author or collaborator can be a huge benefit if you are looking to get published in an academic journal for the first time. Their reputation in the community may help build yours, and that will open doors for you along the way.
Benefit 5: Your mentor can become a life-long colleague and trusted advisor.
Ultimately, you will build a professional relationship with your mentor that will stand the test of time. Choosing a mentor is a two-way street – you must be willing to learn from them, and they have to be willing to teach you what they know (and learn something new along the way!) Your mentor will equip you with the skills to become a stronger professional in your discipline and help you develop all of the practical skills that you need for success. Finding a graduate faculty mentor is important not only to your short-term success in your program, but to your long-term career goals as well. Building this relationship early ensures that it may be intact later on down the road, where you can still seek their advice on particular situations or challenges.
In addition to these five benefits, there are many others that you may discover along the way. Having a mentor may help you feel more confident in a professional setting and will teach you valuable lessons about working with others in your discipline. Finding a mentor doesn’t have to be a formal process, nor does it have to be an immediate one. Take some time to think about the faculty members you most respect, relate to, and get along with. Your favorite mentor may turn out to be the most unlikely faculty member – so keep in mind that there is something to be learned from everyone and enjoy the benefits.