Finding a Mentor for the Doctoral Journey (a.k.a. Dissertation/Thesis Chair)
We can trace the origin of mentor back to Greece. According to Websters “mentor” is a noun that originally was the name of a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus’ son Telemachus. It is now used to mean a trusted counselor, guide, tutor or coach.
While there is no one proven way to find the right mentor, the following five steps have worked in the past.
- Review the biographies as a first filter to identify the candidates that fit the expertise criteria.
- Talk to your fellow doctoral learners and find out what you can about those on your list and reduce the list based on this feedback.
- Interact with the remaining mentor candidates on your list and reduce the number down to two or three based on your experience.
- Send your Resume/CV, an example of one of your best scholarly papers, and a copy of your “draft” research prospectus to those two or three top candidates and request a conversation with them to discuss the possibility of entering into a mentoring relationship.
- Select the one that is the best fit considering the criteria above and come to an agreement with the mentor.
Questions to ask
If I was looking for a mentor I would look for the person who:
- Was knowledgeable and interested in my research topic;
- Had a personality that I liked to work with – compatible;
- Had my best interests in mind; and
- Interested in working with me.