Student Column

Mentorship as a Worthy Endeavor

Overview of mentorship process between student and faculty

By Diomaris E. Jurecska and Tim Cooper

For graduate students, faculty mentoring relationships have the potential to fall anywhere and everywhere along a continuum, some proving to be quite beneficial for student and mentor, and some falling somewhere short of that (Johnson & Huwe, 2002). However, for those of us students committed to engaging in the mentorship process, the rewards can be tremendous. When mentoring is successfully navigated, it has been consistently shown as positively related to both academic and career satisfaction and achievement (Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima, 2004).

Typically Two
The connection between faculty mentor and student is ripe with potential. Not only does this paradigm allow for focused instruction in specific areas of study, it is also a key element in a student’s overall professional development (Brown, Daly, & Leong, 2009). Specifically, quality mentorship includes fostering an arena for questioning roles, developing important professional networks, and discovering a personal sense of meaning in the overall community of psychologists. But what if the chain of mentoring connections were to be intentionally lengthened to include a third (or more) member, an advanced student(s) mentor who is also a protégé of the same faculty mentor?
My In-Chain Mentoring Experience

The in-chain paradigm of mentoring relationships has proved invaluable for my overall graduate- level training by enriching many layers of my developing sense of professional self. It has also served my student and faculty mentor connections in a variety of ways:

Time. My faculty mentor is quite productive- and busy- as she is highly sought-after by students and other faculty members. As a result, her schedule is not generally conducive to “pop-ins” or to fielding many of the random concerns that often arise during my training. However, due to the more advanced levels of exposure and mentoring received from my faculty mentor, my student mentor is able to provide me with the type of training I would otherwise receive from my faculty member, and in a more accessible format.

Professional developmental issues. As is inevitable in any program, I encounter my share of “teachable moments” involving other students, faculty members, and institutional systems, thus presenting challenges for my faculty mentor and I. For example, how much of my emotional experience is safe to bring to my faculty mentor, as I balance my needs for impression management with learning to wrestle with the inevitable emotional experiences of growing professionally? How many of her own frustrations with colleagues and systems are appropriate for my faculty mentor to share with her questioning protégé? The value of a competent student mentor is not just for mediation, but as a peer sounding board for me and as an initial layer of processing that which my faculty mentor isn’t politically able to do.

Benefits for the student mentor. In-chain mentoring is beneficial for my faculty mentor and I, but it also empowers my student mentor as she discovers and develops her own talents in supervision of a younger student (under the supervision of our mutual faculty mentor) in navigating complex systems, bureaucracies, and varying levels of interpersonal conflict.

Editor’s Note: This column was co-written by our student representative Diomaris Jurecska and her mentee Tim Cooper (a third year doctoral student of clinical psychology at George Fox University). We thank Mr. Cooper for his added contribution.