Subscribe to Newsletter
Business & Education Education, Professional Development

What Makes a Mentor?

Deirdre Cabooter: Be as accessible as possible and have regular meetings with your students. Show that you care, and stay closely involved in their research, giving feedback where needed. Doing a PhD can be tough, especially towards the end when time is running out. In such moments, it is important to be supportive, help out where possible, and assure mentees that all will be well in the end.

Jenny Brodbelt: The knack for motivating people with different mindsets and attributes. Each student or trainee has a different set of goals and life experiences, and figuring out how to guide them to maximize success and achievements is challenging. No single roadmap will work for everyone.

Frank Svec: A mentor or teacher should earn respect through their past work, achievements, and connections. However, they should also be able to identify when help is needed, and this requires prioritizing listening and communication. In essence, a mentor should make an effort to truly understand the person they’re guiding – acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses to provide the best support. Rather than asserting superiority, a good mentor focuses on the task at hand in a friendly manner. Their goal is to leverage their experience and knowledge to reach the desired objective, often by thinking creatively and finding innovative solutions to old problems. Lastly, a good mentor recognizes the appropriate moments to offer praise and encouragement.

Christy L. Haynes: Having the mindset that a mentorship is a partnership. It is just as important for you to listen to the input, ideas, and questions of the mentee as it is to deliver information to them. This allows recognition for the often underappreciated wisdom of more junior scientists.

Anthony Gachanja: To be a mentor, you need to be a good listener, have patience, and be able to put yourself in the mentee’s shoes. It’s important to understand their current situation, level of exposure, knowledge bank, and what resources are available to them. By aligning with them, you’re in a position to give guidance for their scientific career. Sharing your knowledge and contacts can also boost their progression.

Gary Hieftje: Enthusiasm. If the advisor or educator isn’t excited about the research or teaching subject, how can the mentee be?

Robert Kennedy: Genuine interest in the student/mentee. I think if you are interested in your students and mentees as people, everything else that you need such as enthusiasm, willingness to support, and putting their interest first will flow from it. You should also find out what motivates them, which is the first step to finding the right projects and type of study.

Matthew Lockett: Empathy. Innovation is an energy-intensive process that requires focus and time and everyone requires different approaches to sustain motivation and creativity. Life can and does get messy – requiring us to redirect our efforts to maintain our health and well-being. Supportive environments promote innovation while minimizing the perceived weakness of asking for help.

Chuck Lucy: Setting the bar high for your junior colleagues so they have a growth mindset. By letting them know that they are capable of reaching these high standards, providing resources, opportunities, and constructive criticism, they will be set to succeed. You should also celebrate their successes to keep their enthusiasm and engagement. It’s key to think of your students and mentees as “junior colleagues” to remind you of this growth mindset – your mentorship doesn’t end with completion of their course or degree.

Facundo M. Fernandez: Listen to the mentee and try not to apply a universal solution to their needs. Each person is unique and so are their needs.

Scott McLuckey: The culture of an education group is particularly important in enabling each member’s individual development – which is influenced by the dynamic personalities within the group. However, the mentor or leader of the group has a dominant influence on group culture (for example, competitive versus cooperative). With this responsibility, it is important to remain vigilant in maintaining an atmosphere that best facilitates personal development and to clearly articulate and model the expectations. If the mentor does this well, older students will reinforce positive values and strongly contribute to education goals – including problem solving and teamwork skills.

Susan Olesik: A successful mentor and educator must listen first and guide second.

Valérie Pichon: Sharing your passion, encouraging students as they learn, and expressing the value of acquiring knowledge to build upon their future.

Renã A.S. Robinson: Humility.

Victoria Samanidou: Enthusiasm for their scientific field. When a mentor is passionate about their topic, the mentees are inspired and challenged to experience a similar path.

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Analytical Scientist and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

Register to The Analytical Scientist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Analytical Scientist magazine