This weekend PPEM and Huck students and postdocs came together to explore how to be their own best mentors. Self mentorship is necessary because no one has been were you’ve been and no one is going where you are going. I was struck by the points of departure, talent, and dreams of this group.
One of the truths about mentoring is that the mentor often learns or benefits as much from the interaction as the mentee does. The relationship can quickly be flipped and the one teaching is now learning. This is something that is really well explained in a book called Mentoring: The Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom. I learned several things from this group, the least of which was to not make the first twitter post of a meeting until you have a hashtag (#ownbestmentor, #PSU_PPEM).
I used this teaching opportunity to post some of the benchmarking tools that I share in this workshop on my blog. The students and postdocs who took the workshop may be asking their advisors for more formal feedback and help designing and using an IDP. Many of the tools are designed to help students, postdocs and faculty to benchmark and mentor themselves. Although some of them are government tools, they are remarkably useful in the academic setting. You might find the Student Intern Assessment useful if you are mentoring or are an undergraduate. I will add to these resources as I find or develop new tools and teach additional classes and would appreciate learning about the tools you use.
I was struck by how hungry the attendees were for this kind of training. We have a professionalism task force that is working on this aspect of our curriculum and by the end of the calendar year we will have at least three more workshops including: mentoring up the ladder (how to mentor your boss) and mentoring diverse populations. How to be your own best mentor is a perquisite to the other two workshops and it will be taught again in April.
Many of us have learned to mentor by trial and error. A few of us have had formal mentorship training. Our conversation about mentorship has just begun and I hope everyone will contribute their knowledge to the discussion.
Mentor yourself well this week.