Not too long ago, I was a graduate student myself. Enduring all the shocks and awes associated with trying to navigate the streams of academe. As an undergraduate, one could almost say the main goal of a bachelor’s degree is to acquire as much knowledge as possible about as many topics as possible before narrowing it down when you choose your major. However, graduate school is a different beast entirely. In grad school we are expected to be creators of new information; contributing to a body of knowledge to help society understand more, to improve the lives of others, and to break boundaries in our field.
The task of graduate school can be more daunting than many students initially realize. Beyond being incubators of new theories or products, graduate students must also prepare themselves professionally to enter the workforce. Whether that workforce is industry or the academy, a graduate student must be able to traverse through the politics and expectations of his or her department. For many, this is something more easily said than done.
This is where mentoring comes into play. Not only can effective mentoring assist students along the path of success with their academic and professional goals but it can help to socialize them in a stressful and complex graduate school environment. Simply stated, mentoring is one of the most important keys to success in and after graduate school.
In this four-part mentoring series, we will more closely look at some of the research concerning the importance of graduate mentoring, issues concerning race and gender in mentoring, and examine the benefits of graduate mentoring with a lens towards diverse students.
“Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.” — Junot Diaz