How mentorship applies to ECPs

Becoming a better mentor relies on several key factors including professional networking, creating a professional identity, balancing your personal and professional life, and managing stress

1. Career Development

  • Job selection and application process (e.g., positions to apply for, salary negotiation) 

  • Hearing about mentors’ experiences and challenges, and how they were overcome/what was learned 

  • Practical advice about lab start-up and management, teaching, licensure, etc. 

  • Advice about funding sources and grant-writing tips 

  • Advice about appropriate publication outlets, IRB procedures, etc. 

  • Resources, such as testing kits and research software 

  • Role-modeling of professional ethical behavior

2. Networking and Collaborations

  • Sharing their network to help the mentee develop a network of their own

  • Involvement in research to aid the mentee in developing specific skills, increase publication opportunities and foster connections with other colleagues

3. Professional Identity

  • Guide mentee in the development of his or her identity as a psychologist, scientist, etc.

  • Guiding how to best prioritize professional activities and memberships (e.g., finding a balance between taking advancement opportunities without becoming overextended)

  • Role modeling of appropriate priorities and activities in the profession

  • Provide access to leadership opportunities in the field

4. Managing Finances and Other Common Stressors

  • Offering a calming presence and perspective

  • Referrals to financial planning seminars or financial planners

  • Sharing their experiences with the same or similar kinds of stressors to help put experiences in perspective and offer hope

5. Balancing Personal and Professional Identity

  • Emphasis on the importance of personal self-care and healthy lifestyle

  • Maintenance of perspective on the “bigger picture” at the beginning of one’s professional career, if mentee becomes overwhelmed

  • Sharing experiences of when mentor’s own work-life ratio was out-of-balance one way or the other, and consequences of this imbalance

  • Alternating between playing devil’s advocate and being one’s ally in discussions about life priorities

  • Role modeling how to balance priorities (e.g., how it can be possible to have both a family and career)

Who should I ask to be my mentor(s)?

  • Not necessary to expect one mentor to serve all mentorship functions (e.g., professional vs. personal life, different aspects of professional life)

  • Someone you feel a connection with, whom you identify with, whom you want to emulate

  • Someone who has similar interests, values and priorities

  • Someone with whom you enjoy interacting

  • Someone who has expressed an interest in your professional development, and who would be willing and has the time to meet with you regularly

  • Someone in your department (1) (enables frequent contact opportunities, has an understanding of departmental politics and expectations), or someone in your field (who can provide support in the form of networks, resources, collaborations, leadership opportunities, etc.)

  • Someone who may have experienced the challenges you are facing or that you will likely face in the future (either professionally or personally)

  • Diverse mentees don’t necessarily need to find mentors who share their demographic characteristics, but mentors should have an understanding and sensitivity to these characteristics