Why mentoring is hard to find

Regardless of their fields, faculty need to balance many demands that are made of them. Some of their responsibilities include: teaching undergraduate and graduate courses; advising undergraduate and graduate students; serving on dissertation committees; researching or working on creative projects; writing grants, books and articles; reviewing the work of students and colleagues; serving on departmental and university committees; and fulfilling duties for professional organizations.

The pace of these demands does not let up over time. Junior faculty face the pressure of preparing for their tenure review, which means they have to be engaged in an active research agenda. As faculty become more senior, and their national and international prominence increases, there is a concomitant rise in the requests for their time and energies (Tierney & Rhoads, 1994).

For these reasons, graduate students and mentors need to ensure that time is reserved for mentoring and that the time is well invested for both parties. The vast majority of faculty members find that mentoring graduate students is one of the most rewarding of all their professional responsibilities. That is because mentoring is not a task, per se, but a renewable source of intellectual, professional, and personal fulfillment and a gratifying means by which mentors can pass on the rich lessons they have learned throughout their careers.