Your Voice

Your Voice: What to look for in a mentor

Bosses and colleagues are givens, but you can choose your own mentor.

Your Voice: What to look for in a mentor

The most renowned professional athletes have mentors and coaches to keep them at the top of their game. Mentors keep mentees on track, whether they’re having a winning day, or a “learning” day. By following a great mentor’s words and actions, it’s possible to learn about yourself en route to reaching your goals.


Mentors can help to achieve academic and professional, as well as sporting goals. A mentor is important to a Ph.D. student; for example, scheduling weekly meetings, discussing and providing a range of scientific resources, and improving understanding of the scope of research being undertaken. In this situation, a mentor will help explore research gaps and encourage a mentee to extend knowledge in specific areas. 


A good mentor will provide constructive feedback, directing further studies or action to strengthen any weaknesses. He or she will help keep a mentee on track, especially when things are not going as planned, and help individuals stay at the top of their game, by pushing with better focus than people push themselves. 


While bosses and colleagues are givens, it’s possible to choose a mentor. But choosing wisely can be as challenging as achieving your end goals. For those who make the right choice, the rewards are improved well-being and a greater chance of fulfilling their potential. Select a mentor who shares your values: someone you respect and relate to; but who has different viewpoints that can challenge and stretch you.


Even with the right mentor, self-discipline remains essential, as does focusing on goals one step at a time. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey. A good mentor will help a mentee appreciate that success can feel all the richer when you’ve embraced — rather than sacrificed — the here and now. 


Your Voice reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writer, and not necessarily those of the publication.

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