Mentoring

EFS FABRIJUNK at ukans.edu
Sat Dec 12 02:14:42 EST 1998


In article <366C0249.E0C1E198 at salk.edu>, nospamforsburg at salk.edu wrote:
(snip)
>So, I try to give encouraging comments to my students and 
>postdocs regardless of how their experiments are doing.  But is that 
>enough?

That's a *whole heck* of a lot more than many advisors do.  Whether they
realize it or not, your students are very lucky to have you!  I'm a grad
student myself, and I have had some very good mentors, so I can add a few
suggestions:

(1) Focus on unique aspects of the student's research, and discuss the
work (not just the results) in a positive light.  One of the most
*wonderful* things a professor ever told me was, "I certainly hope that
you're photocopying all of your original data and keeping it safe
somewhere.  This stuff is very valuable!  It's irreplaceable!"  

(2) Ask the student (especially one that is on a research assistantship
instead of a teaching assistantship) to do a guest lecture in on of your
courses.  This shows that you have faith in her expertise and that you
consider her a 'colleague-in-training.'

(3) Aside from your regular weekly meetings, at some point (maybe more
than once), sit down with your student and talk seriously about "Your
Research Future."   Even while she is focusing intensely on her current
(dissertation) topic, remind her that there is a whole world of
interesting problems out there to tackle.  Also, your student might have
"secret" research interests that you don't even know about!  Talk to her
about what general topics she finds interesting... you may be surprised.  

(4) Strongly encourage your student to have at least one "side project"
that is very different from the dissertation work.  If your lab is not set
up to allow for this, the side project could even be library research for
a review paper of some sort.  However... it is REALLY NICE to have
something else to work on when your primary research isn't going well or
isn't terribly exciting.  It also keeps you from investing your ego all in
one place.

(5) You don't have to be 'best buddies' with your students (in fact, I
have more respect for professors who are not), but do make a point of
showing concern for them as people, and make it clear that your approval
of them is not based solely on performance.

I hope these ideas are useful to you.  If anyone else has ideas along
these lines, I would love to hear them! (I'm not a professor myself, but I
hope to be one someday.)

-- 
To reply to me by e-mail, take out the junk!




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