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Pre-Tenured Faculty | Faculty Mentoring

Faculty Mentoring

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.

Faculty may also want to augment their reputation and marketability within their discipline (de Janasza and Sullivan, 2001). A mentoring network that includes external partners can provide insights from a wider perspective to support this goal.

While mentoring alone cannot provide you with all of the support, community-building, and competency development required for success, it is a vital component of your development.

Finding A Traditional Mentor

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:

  • Does s/he have to work in the same areas of research/scholarship?
  • Is it important that s/he is interested and connected to the research/scholarship you want to pursue?
  • Is it important that you share similar backgrounds?
  • Is it important that you share similar values?
  • Does your mentor’s image or reputation on campus and in the department matter to you? In what ways?

Guidelines for Successful Mentoring Relationships

  • Set a regular meeting time and stick to it
    This will enable you to maintain your momentum.
  • Prepare for each meeting
    Know what you want to discuss, find out, or explore.
  • Be clear and direct about your needs and goals
    Your mentor can best help when s/he can address specific issues.
  • Be honest about your shortcomings
    Sharing mistakes or competency gaps can help your mentor provide guidance.
  • Explicitly ask for feedback 
    It will be much easier for your mentor to give you honest opinions if you provide an opening.
  • Accept feedback with an open mind
    A mentor can often provide valuable insight and objective opinions.
  • Ask for guidance that enables you to help yourself
    Focus on identifying additional resources and connections.
  • Try the things your mentor suggests
    Don’t dismiss advice because it is unfamiliar or pushes you out of your comfort zone.
  • Maintain professional boundaries
    Don’t expect, or try to develop, a "personal friendship."
  • Show eagerness and enthusiasm for what the mentor can provide
  • Share credit for your successes
    Acknowledge the value your mentor has provided.

Guidelines for Successful Peer Mentoring

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:

  • Provide constructive feedback rather than pointing out mistakes.
  • Be receptive to constructive criticism and willing to try suggestions from others.
  • Freely share what you learn, even if through mistakes, with others.
  • Be willing to share your connections to networks inside and outside RIT with peers.
  • Always maintain confidentiality within the relationship.
  • Disclose your own personal experiences when they are relevant.