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When It Comes to Mentoring the More the Merrier

Faculty all agree that mentorship is a key to success in rising through the university hierarchy; however, there is a collective belief among many tenure-track faculty that throughout their careers they have experienced a lack of mentorship. While they may have been provided with a mentor, they likely do not see that person on a regular basis, and in many cases the visits are ceremonial and with little substance.

It is often difficult for universities, and their faculty, to devote the time and resources to effective mentorship. There is a clear disparity in the level of mentorship received by new faculty members; a few individuals have a beneficial relationship with a mentor, but most feel inadequately supported. The fact of the matter is that it is the job of the mentee to put one’s self in a situation for mentorship to be a useful tool.

First of all, mentorship does need to come from a single all-encompassing figure. Different people have different strengths, so seek help accordingly. This way you not only have all your needs met but also build a more expansive support network.

Secondly, understand what you want from a mentor. You cannot blindly expect that a colleague is going to make you better in your field. There have to be certain expectations. These can range anywhere from day to day encouragement to performance evaluations, combined with professional improvement advice. Furthermore, new faculty members should never fear asking questions. Without asking questions, you limit resources and support available to you.

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