Intellectual Entrepreneurship: Mentors Offer Advice on How to Mentor

Here is some advice from three graduate students who have been IE Mentors several times in the past.
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In addition to their suggestions, be sure to look at the narratives and videos of prior mentors:

Honestly, my mentees have gotten the most out of their experience by me not holding anything back from them. They get to see the long hours of graduate school, the lack of the structure of classes that grad students experience (which challenges one's maturity and self-discipline), the frustrations of obstacles to conducting one's research, the type of relationship that exists between a grad student and her/his advisor, the balancing that has to occur between teaching duties, data collection, manuscript preparation, and life!

All of this applies to a Psych grad student's life, but hopefully some of this helps for other disciplines. Just share yourself and your life and they'll learn a ton along the way.

- David (Psychology)

I think something I did well was really listen to the interests of my students to help them gain experience that would interest them and help them in the future. I talked about my work, the changes from undergrad to grad school, and so on. But I also listened--they have a lot of strange questions that are hard to predict because it is difficult to get back in the mindset of what you thought before you knew what grad school was. :)

We also talked about supplemental things like networking, funding projects, making a positive digital profile, and so on-- I guess that would be "professionalization" or something.

Hope that helps! It was a great experience!

- Laura (R-T-F)

Like David and Laura have suggested, I tried to give my mentees a glimpse of what grad student life was all about. I invited them to sit in on my research meetings, attend classes with me, and study with me on occasion.

That way they could have an idea what a typical day/week was like.

Additionally, I would invite them to attend any of the meetings of the organizations in which I was a member, and I would also invite them to other social events I might attend with other colleagues/students as well as events I would attend with my family. I would always stress that graduate school consumes a lot of your time, but that it was always important to have a healthy balance. We talked about how challenging school was but also how fun and rewarding it could be as well.

I also shared my life experiences and what drove my decision to attend graduate school. We talked about goal setting and how graduate school plays a role in that.

We frequently talked about what they should be doing now in order to prepare for graduate school. We'd talk about establishing relationships with their professors, finding out more about the major in which they're interested, attending recruiting fairs, and studying for the GRE. I would also attempt to connect them with people in certain grad programs so that they could network and have multiple avenues in which to get information.

Also, as Laura stated, I would frequently just allow them to ask questions and try to give them that unique perspective that only a graduate student can give them. As David suggested, I just tried to be real them. We'd talk about the successes and challenges of grad-student life. We'd talk about their experiences as an undergrad and the challenges that they felt stood in the way of them getting into graduate school. We'd try to debunk any myths that might be hindering them and give them the authentic stories and experiences about "aspiring to be" and also "being" a graduate student.

I hope this helps!

- Daniel (Education)