Q: What are some of the topics you talk about?
I’ve had 5 or 6 mentees over the years and each relationship is a little different. We often talk about preparation for graduate studies and make sure the breadth of the student’s experience is consistent with what these programs look for. I’ve helped mentees work on getting published, finding labs for research experience, and finding summer internships.
A second area is looking at options in psychology following graduation. It’s important for students to recognize how their core skills can be applied to other areas, like human resources, education, business, and non-profits. Students sometimes feel like their options are limited, and I help them to see that their skills are transferable.
The third area we focus on is the development of a good résumé and networking skills. I try to help my mentees make connections for internships, and job shadowing, and information interviews.
Finally, I think we provide a good model for professional communications. By watching and interacting with a mentor students can learn the unwritten rules of professional communications and the interpersonal skills needed in the professional world.
Q: Do you find it difficult to find common ground due to a generation difference?
No. I think it’s our responsibility as mentors to be up to speed with the communications technology that students use because there is no reason for students to go backwards. A good mentor should make sure that they’re reasonably current. I find that the differences aren’t really that great between the generations.
Q: What motivated you to become a mentor?
I feel that in the field of psychology, like many others, there is an implicit obligation to help the next generation move forward professionally. Providing opportunities for interested students is our job. The undergrad degree may not be as marketable as we would like it to be, so it is important to help students understand where their skills lie so that they can really pursue the field they want.
Q: What is most fulfilling about your mentor/mentee relationship?
I find it fulfilling to watch the early professional maturation of my mentees. You can see their communications becoming more professional and even see them achieve early career goals.
Q: What do you think makes a good mentorship?
I believe it’s the mentors responsibility to see where the student is (academically or professionally) and to meet the student a little more than half way. It’s important that you’re willing to be flexible, because students have a lot of demands on their time. I respect when my mentee takes the time to communicate with me. Respect for each other’s time is key.