Digital mentoring – like mentoring in person – is complex and rewarding. Whether you are a new mentor assembling your mentoring toolkit or an established mentor staying up to speed on emerging issues in mentoring, this guide will help you and your mentees get the most out of the mentor-mentee relationship, be it in-person or digital. Getting the most out of that relationship starts from a recognition that mentoring is a two-way street. Dr. Carole Bland describes mentoring as a relationship that helps “mentees successfully acquire the key competencies and constructive work relationships they need to lead a successful and satisfying career,” is “collaborative,” and ultimately “develops over time and passes through specific phases.” (Bland, 2012, p. 12)
Effective mentoring has several benefits for mentees. Effective mentoring promotes academic persistence and degree attainment. Students who have effective mentors have a greater sense of self-efficacy and research identity. They also have a greater sense of belonging within their academic communities. (Pfund et al., 2016) You should learn and grow just as you help your mentee to do the same. (McGee, 2016, p. S232; Pfund et al., 2016, p. 2) One of the great benefits of mentoring is the opportunity to gain new knowledge and develop new skills. Other significant benefits of mentoring include but are not limited to: seizing the opportunity to “pay it forward” when it comes to the knowledge and experience you have gained over your career, fulfilling a commitment to the ideals and goals of scholarly research, seeing your own research in a new and clarifying light, growing your research network, honing your teaching skills, and leaving the future of the research process in good hands.
Of course, experiencing these benefits depends on recognizing both the responsibilities and requirements of being a mentor, which are introduced in the next two sections.
Up next: The Responsibilities of Mentoring
Grow your mentoring toolkit by checking out one of the following courses:
- To refine your mentoring strategies through a series of interactive exercises, visit the University of Minnesota’s course on Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring. You will need to register for this free online course, supported through a partnership with the National Mentoring Resource Network and hosted by the University of Minnesota.
- Tap into the expertise of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison through the Entering Mentoring curriculula.