Postdoc as Mentor
Being a mentor can have a profound influence on the relative satisfaction and success of postdoctoral scholars. Postdoctoral mentors can also make enormous contributions to their mentees’ education, personal and professional development, and well-being. To help your mentees get the most out of their mentoring experience, it is helpful to establish good communication, have a plan, and set goals.
Communicate well. Mentoring involves the communication of information between people. Mentors can be thought as “guides on the side,” serving to facilitate the mentee’s construction of their own personal and professional development. Getting to know your mentee involves dedicating time to learn more about them by asking questions and practicing active listening.
Have a plan! One of the best ways to approach mentoring is to construct a plan in collaboration with your mentees. Mentoring plans are tools to help optimize the mentoring experience by providing a roadmap for both the postdoc mentor and the mentee of the activities that will be undertaken to further the mentee's professional and career development.
Set clear goals and expectations. It is important for mentors and mentees to meet regularly to review goals, progress, challenges, and future plans. One aspect of mentoring involves preparing mentees to be competitive for future careers inside and beyond the academy. Putting those goals and expectations in writing can be helpful for anchoring those discussions.
Postdoc as Mentee
As a postdoc, it goes without saying that mentors are critical for your continued development as a professional, as well as your movement into a position beyond training. But there is no such thing as the perfect mentor because everyone’s needs and goals vary widely. Even with a clear view of what you are seeking from mentors, it is critical to keep in mind that it will be less about what your mentor will ‘give’ to you and more about how the two of you can collaborate to meet your mutual needs. Learn more about how to assess your needs as a mentee, enhance your mentoring relationships, and "mentor up" through the NPA Postdoc Guide to Mentorship and the NIH Mentoring Resources page.
General Resources on Mentoring
Here is a list of tools that can help you (postdoc) navigate the needs of your mentees and provide them with productive and oriented advice on the development of various professional skills:
UArizona Mentoring Toolkit: guidelines on how to create the best mentoring experience.
MENTOR Institute Online Training: Online course for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students on how to build and maintain mentoring relationships
How to Mentor Graduate Students, University of Michigan
Graduate Advising and Mentoring: Worst Practices, University of Minnesota
Developing shared expectations (form) University of Michigan
Inclusive Mentoring: Effective Graduate Student Mentoring Practices, Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning
Postdoc Mentoring Series: Watch the recordings of the panels presented at the Postdoc Mentoring Series 2021.