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Qualities of Mentors & Mentees

Below you'll find information related to the mentor/mentee relationships.

Successful Characteristics of a Mentor

  • Encourage and demonstrate confidence in your mentee
  • Recognize your mentee as an individual with a private life and value him/ her has a person
  • Ensure a positive and supportive professional environment for your mentee
  • Don’t deny your own ignorance
  • Be liberal with feedback
  • Encourage independent behavior, but be willing to invest ample time in your mentee
  • Provide accessibility and exposure for your mentee within your own professional circle both within and outside of the immediate university circle
  • Illustrate the methodology and importance of  ‘networking’ in basic science
  • Allow your mentee to assist you with projects, papers and research whenever possible and be generous with credit

Questions for the Mentor: Establishing & Clarifying Goals

  • What do you want the mentee to be able to do or know?
  • What are your (perceived and actual) responsibilities to your mentee?
  • What is your own work style like? What is your mentee’s preferred work style?
  • What kinds of decisions do you expect your mentee to make on his or her own? What kinds of decisions do you expect to be involved in?
  • What kinds of opportunities can you provide your mentee that will help him or her acquire important skills / knowledge? Who else do you know who may be a good resource?
  • How do you want your mentee to communicate with you? When is email appropriate? When is it necessary / important to meet face to face? Where is the best place for you to meet your mentor?
  • What kind of feedback should your mentee expect from you? How often will you provide feedback? What is your turnaround time for providing feedback?
  • How will you know if the relationship is working / productive? How will the two of you gauge satisfaction and productivity?
  • How do you anticipate your relationship changing over time?

Download our Mentor Checklist.

Successful Characteristics of a Mentee

  • Eagerness to learn and a respect and desire to learn from the person selected as the mentor
  • Seriousness in the relationship
  • Take the initiative in the relationship, especially in the beginning – be politely insistent about your desire for an active mentor
  • Flexibility and an understanding of this senior professional’s demanding schedule
  • Promptness for all appointments
  • Feedback, even if nothing is requested
  • Interest in your mentor’s professional journey. Also, acknowledge he or she has a life outside of the professional setting and knowing something about that can help you communicate better
  • Never forget the time and effort this person is taking to offer you a smoother path on the way to success

NUCATS Mentoring Resources

Learn about the Center for Education & Career Development at Northwester University Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS). The center works to address the critical shortage of qualified clinical and translational investigators, research mentors and professional clinical research staff in the Northwestern University community and beyond.

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