Previously: How to set expectations with your mentor
Mentoring comes from different places at your summer research site
It is important to understand the role of your faculty research mentor in contrast to the role of other potential mentors at your research site. For example, the postdocs and graduate students who may work with you on the research project (sometimes as your primary research mentor) have meaningful potential as mentors. So does the summer coordinator at your research site, who will organize various professional development opportunities and help you troubleshoot problems that may arise.
- Postdocs and graduate students have first-hand information about what it is like being a postdoc and graduate student today – your faculty mentor is removed from that experience (sometimes by decades). Postdocs and graduate students can prepare you to navigate many of the challenges that will arise when you take the next steps in your research career.
- The summer coordinator at your research site is likewise a great potential mentor. First, if they have been a long-time summer coordinator at your site, they are a tremendous potential resource for navigating the challenges that arise over the course of the summer. Aside from narrow research questions, they have experience dealing with just about every problem under the sun that relates to a summer research experience. Moreover, they are an excellent resource for helping you build skills and find professional development activities. In many instances, from presentation practice to help with the graduate school application process, your summer coordinator already has a workshop or event planned. If, however, there is a professional development opportunity in which you are interested, raise that with your summer coordinator. They may be able to help.