What to Look for in a Mentor and Mentee

July 9, 2013

I didn’t recognize the importance of mentors until I was a graduate student at the University of Toledo and stumbled upon Jeanne Brockmyer, PhD, distinguished emeritus professor of Psychology. This amazing mentor helped to identify my goals (some of which I didn’t even know myself) and worked with me to develop concrete strategies to achieve those goals. My experience with this knowledgeable and caring individual led me to seek out mentors at every step of my career and to become an effective mentor myself.

What to look for in a mentor? Sure, brilliance in your field of interest is a plus, but the following qualities and abilities are a must:

  1. approachability and openness for questions
  2. ability and willingness to assist in goal-setting
  3. availability for regular meetings
  4. timely constructive feedback on performance and work
  5. support of exploring several academic or career paths

I now serve as the Training Director at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP. Not only do I get the pleasure of working with amazing trainees, but I also am surrounded by dedicated mentors that thrive on developing future scientists, engineers, physicians, communicators, business leaders, and public health advocates. These mentors dedicate real time and effort to their mentees and their decision to mentor is a serious commitment.

What do these CIRP@CHOP mentors look for in a mentee?

  1. creativity, including the ability to think outside the box
  2. dependability and dedication to projects
  3. critical thinking skills
  4. desire to learn and grow professionally
  5. contributions of ideas to ongoing projects
  6. interest in improving children’s lives through research, practice, and or advocacy

Many of our trainees have been accepted to medical and graduate school, while others have pursued careers in academia and industry. I hope that our trainees find their CIRP mentorship helpful and that they continue to seek mentorship throughout their careers to facilitate their goals. Mentoring and being mentored are two sides of the same coin. They strengthen each other to create teams that are confident and competent.

You may want to read what some of our past trainees are doing now. Their stories may give you the incentive to become a mentor or to seek a mentor.