While faculty members work independently, they require collaboration to be successful, especially when they are new to a university or the teaching profession. Along with learning basic information about RIT and their teaching role, they also need guidance on how to approach their career.
There is a wide range of support resources for new faculty at RIT, but faculty must also realize that they must often act as "self-agents" in finding and taking advantage of networking opportunities, such as participating in various development programs. The self-agency that you show in finding and connecting with mentors—as well as acting in a mentoring role with peers—can accelerate your integration into the RIT community.
By connecting with multiple mentors, you can gain a variety of perspectives. Your mentoring network may include peers, administrators, experienced faculty and even external individuals like journal editors, members of a professional association, or your thesis advisor. You might think of your mentoring network as your personal "board of directors" -- a term used for the idea of thinking broadly about who your mentors are and who your role models are going to be in life, and "Just like any good board, the people you choose should have different contributions to make to your thinking" (Claman, P., 2010).
Identifying a mentor for a one-to-one relationship may come from meeting an individual and "feeling" that s/he has the experience, knowledge and temperament that you are looking for. Also, consider the commonalities that are important to you from a mentor:
Traditional Mentoring Relationships
While your mentor provides advice and guidance, being a protégé is an active role as well. Your efforts to clarify your needs, along with your willingness to accept suggestions or criticism are vital to a successful mentoring relationship.
It will be easier for your mentor if you make your needs and goals explicit:
This will help your potential mentor decide whether the two of you are a good fit before working on your ongoing learning and development.
You should also be prepared to disclose information about yourself, including your challenges and strengths, so your mentor has an idea of what might be required to help you achieve your goals.
Your meetings with your mentor are a key part of building and maintaining your relationship and making professional progress. You should plan for each meeting so it is time well-spent for both of you. Since your mentor’s time may be limited, remember that your supervisor (not your mentor) should be your main information source for basic process or policy matters, such as:
The First Meeting
Consider your first meeting with your mentor as a “get acquainted” session. You may have dozens of questions and concerns, but instead, focus on addressing broad questions and gaining agreement on how you and your mentor can best work together. Some initial questions include:
Mentoring is an ongoing process of learning and development, so what you want to talk about at each meeting can change depending on what is going on with you professionally and personally.
A strategy for making the most of your time with your mentor is to have two basic agenda items for each meeting: one with a short-term focus and one with a long-term focus. This double-edged strategy allows you to gain some perspective on immediate issues so you can work through (and past) them, while maintaining momentum toward your larger goal.
You should have an early discussion about the Statement of Expectations from your department head. If you have not received one, your mentor can still go a long way in helping clarify expectations in the college and at RIT. Another topic of continued guidance will be around building your tenure portfolio or promotional dossier and developing contacts who will be effective supporting references.
Your long-term goals will probably be around one of these areas:
Whether you are part of an established peer mentoring group or simply providing advice to a colleague, you should follow these guidelines to ensure mentoring success:
Being a mentee is an active role. By using the strategies below, you can build a stronger, more productive relationship with all of your mentors.
After you have been working with your mentor for one or two semesters, you may want to evaluate the relationship to determine if you are getting what you need from your mentor.
Questions to consider are:
If your relationship with your mentor is not turning out to be mutually productive, it might be better to end it so you can both find partners that are more suitable. You should not end the relationship abruptly, however—work together to bring the relationship to a positive, if not entirely successful, conclusion (Ensher & Murphy, 2005).