Have you heard the term “faculty mentor”? Though connecting with faculty can appear challenging in the digital classroom, it is still possible to find a mentor to help you throughout college. A faculty mentor is a faculty member you can go to for questions, recommendations, and to help prepare you for work in your specific field. My faculty mentor has helped me attend conferences, write research, and she will write a recommendation letter for graduate school. But what makes a good faculty mentor? Here are three characteristics to keep in mind as you are considering a possible mentor search:
They make themselves available
How difficult would it be to have a faculty mentor you can never get in touch with? You can often tell pretty quickly how willing a faculty member is to make themselves available as a resource for their students. It may come as a shock, but professors have lives of their own outside of the university setting. Some professors will stick to straight office hours, and those designated time slots will be the only time they will use to communicate with students. Professors who offer one-on-one appointments, their office phone number, or different ways to message them make it evident that they want to get to know and better assist their students. A professor that makes a great faculty mentor will offer multiple options for communication and will appear unbothered to do so.
They are well connected to their field
Whether they have always been in academia or if they returned to it recently, having knowledge of opportunities within your field is an important factor in a mentor. This can look like awareness of conferences, internships, or other resume builders they can recommend to you.
You enjoy their course
This one sounds like it shouldn’t be a requirement, but it is easier to work with someone when you are used their communication strategies and are comfortable approaching them. If you are terrified to approach this professor, they probably aren’t the best pick. Your job as a mentee is to observe and communicate with your mentor as much as possible to best learn whatever knowledge they are inclined to share. If you already are having difficulty sitting through a one-hour lecture with this professor, adding more one-on-one interactions may not be beneficial.
I hope these tips help you to find a faculty mentor that fits your needs! This is a great tool for students to utilize while they still have easy access to their highly trained and connected professors. Don’t let that opportunity pass!
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