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Bulletin vol. 34 no. 1 | 21 • Before you begin searching for or contacting mentors, it is important to have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a mentor and how you hope the mentor can be of use to you • Start by writing down some goals for the mentorship. You might seek a certain type of mentor given your goals for a mentorship such as (a) a career mentor, someone who is familiar with career expectations and can help to set tangible goals and timelines, (b) a content mentor, someone who knows a specific area really well and can educate you on the content area and/or help you conduct research within that specific area, or (c) more of a life coach mentor, someone in the field who can offer advice, support, and help you to learn how to balance the often conflicting demands of work, family and outside activities. • Think about how you want your mentorship to be structured, such as how often you want to contact your mentor and through what means (phone, email, face to face). Do you want a mentor who is willing to meet with you weekly or bi-weekly and discuss career development? Do you want a mentor that will help you conduct a specific research project? Or do you want a mentor that you can just call or email when you have a question or are seeking advice? Having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with a mentor as well as how you hope the mentorship will look is important before you begin searching for a mentor. • After you have a clear idea of your goals and expectations, start searching! - Talk to faculty members or other professionals within your network to see if they have any ideas of potential mentors that could help you reach your goals. - Professional organizations often have formal mentorship programs. You can also reach out to the professional organizations you are a part of and ask if they would be willing to connect you with potential mentors. - You can always search for potential mentors online by your area of interest and reach out to them to see if they would be willing to discuss the possibility of a mentorship even further. - You may also meet potential mentors through volunteering or assisting with different projects. • Do not be afraid to 'interview' a few different potential mentors. Talk with them over the phone or offer to buy them a cup of coffee. Ask them about their career path and interests. Most professionals are flattered at the opportunity to talk about their career development. • When talking with potential mentors, be very clear about your goals and expectations for the mentorship to prevent any confusion or frustration in the future, but also be flexible and willing to adjust your goals or expectations based on the potential mentor's ideas or suggestions. Bring your CV with you and ask for them to look for any potential holes in your training that they would recommend filling given your career goals. Again, they are the one already working in the field and may have a better idea of what could be a beneficial experience. • A good mentor is someone who: - You feel comfortable talking to - Can communicate effectively, provide clear and honest feedback to better your professional development - Is respectful and reliable - Is more interested in your success and committed to your professional development - Experienced enough to be able to help you navigate the ups and downs, the good times and disappointments that are inevitable in any career - Is available, flexible, and timely - And most importantly, supportive of you and your goals • While it might take several conversations before a 'mentor fit' is found, persevere. Also, do not be afraid of selecting a few different mentors for different reasons. Making a constellation of mentors allows for you to get your developmental needs met through a variety of people. • Consider finding a peer mentor as well. Peer mentors can offer a behind-the-scenes look at a graduate program and answer questions that students might not feel comfortable asking a faculty member. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and a peer mentor can likely offer you great advice that they wish they would have known when going through the doctoral program. How to Make the Most Out of Your Mentorship (The Do's and Don'ts) Assuming you have now successfully found a mentor or mentors to help guide you through your training, here are a few words of advice to make the most out of your mentorship. • Be sure to establish appropriate boundaries, expectations, and goals at the beginning of the relationship, with the understanding that the expectations and goals will likely evolve as you continue to progress through your training • Try to be proactive, responsible, and professional. Complete the tasks you agree to complete and that your mentor expects of you. Do not waste their time by not holding up your end of the deal. • If you want to have regular meetings with your mentor, try to schedule them in advance, such as agreeing to meet every other Monday at 6 pm, but remember to be flexible and willing to accommodate any conflicts that arise. Your mentor is likely a busy person with other obligations on their plate. • Create an agenda, topic, or plan, for each meeting ahead of time. This allows both you and your mentor to come prepared and allows you to get what you want out of your mentorship. You and your mentor can either make a plan for each meeting after your previous meeting ("When we meet next week, can we talk about or work on this?") or you might consider creating an agenda for several weeks in advance. Whatever feels most comfortable for both of you. • Do not be afraid to ask questions. This is your chance to ask anything you want about the field or about concepts or ideas that are not clear to you. Use this one-on-one time to your advantage. • Ask for feedback! On your writing, your CV, your training goals, your career plan, your interview skills, your professionalism, all of it. Your mentor should be interested in your professional development and want to help you progress in all areas of your training. This is a great way to get feedback on things that are not addressed in your schooling but are still critical in your training and development as a neuropsychologist. • Be open to receiving feedback! Nothing can damage a relationship quicker than being defensive or dismissive when receiving feedback. Be willing to hear what your mentor has to say and know that it's coming from a place to help you, not offend you. After all, the whole point of mentorship is having that person who can provide you with support, which includes telling you things that might be hard to hear. Blair Honsey, M.A. is a counseling psychology doctoral candidate at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is currently in the process of applying for her doctoral internship for the 2020- 2021 academic year and she plans to pursue specialty training in neuropsychology.

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