Over and over we hear students express the desire for good mentoring, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, social class, disciplinary interest, or departmental affiliation. The need is universal: good mentoring helps all students learn more successfully.
The concept of mentoring has gained currency in recent years as a means to improve the productivity and effectiveness of the many individuals engaged in the graduate education enterprise. This increased attention has revealed that many of our day-to-day understandings of mentoring are often limited. Many people assume that good mentoring "just happens" naturally or is only for those who are "lucky enough" to stumble upon the right individuals to guide their intellectual and professional development. Good mentoring, however, is not a matter of luck. It is a matter of awareness, intention, and a genuine desire to succeed.
The sections in this guidebook walk you through the concepts, planning, strategies, and tools that facilitate meaningful mentoring relationships.
Section II. Mentoring in a Dynamic Learning Community lays a foundation for understanding the nature of mentoring and how it is similar to, and different from, advising. Here you can explore the basic definition and qualities of good mentoring, the benefits of mentoring to you and your mentors, the changing graduate student population, and the various roles and responsibilities you and your mentors have. This section also stresses the importance of seeking multiple mentors.
Section III. Thinking about Your Mentoring Needs offers practical strategies and concrete recommendations for establishing and maintaining effective relationships with your mentors.
Section IV. Getting Started on Your Mentoring Journey helps you lay the groundwork for building great relationships with your mentors. Its focus is on helping you clarify the mutual interests you share with your mentors, as well as your expectations of each other.
Section V. Common Themes Among Graduate Students explores some common concerns about the graduate experience shared by a large number of students and offers advice about how mentoring can help you address and resolve them.
Section VI. Mentoring Needs in a Diverse Community expands your understanding of the personal, demographic, professional, and historical factors that may influence your goals and challenges, both during and beyond the graduate experience.
Section VII. Mentoring Resources provides sample worksheets to help you and your mentors implement the strategies and recommendations discussed in this guidebook. It also provides a list of further readings to expand your knowledge of mentoring and professional development.
We hope this guide serves all members of our graduate community — graduate students, faculty, departmental graduate chairs and assistants, heads of departments, schools and colleges, and our central administration — as a useful starting point for enriching mentoring as part of the graduate student experience and for ensuring vitality in graduate education at UNL.