We suggest having a regularly scheduled meeting, and at the end of each meeting, be sure to have a specific deliverable prepared for the next meeting. As one example for an applicant who is working on an NSF GRFP application, the specific deliverable might be: by next week’s meeting, have an outline of the Graduate Research Plan Statement drafted. If you are ever unsure of what you are supposed to be working on between meetings, please ask your mentor!
Establish a mutual understanding of the commitment, and specify modes of communication and response times.
Doing work by email can be fine for exchanging drafts, but a phone or skype/zoom conversation is often more efficient. Among other things, live conversations are much better suited to figuring out sources of confusion and for brainstorming about ideas. It might make sense to follow up on phone or skype/zoom conversations with an email clarifying some of the main points and the plan for what to work on between meetings.
Remember that your mentor is here to support and guide you towards the best course of action, not to advise you on what to do or to write your materials for you. Your mentor will give you advice on occasion, but more often will be laying out potential options and giving you information to help you decide. Grantcraft is an acquired skill and your mentor has experience with what works well, so a certain amount of faith that they know what they are doing is required.
Your mentor has chosen to take a particular interest in your professional development. They have volunteered for this role, and it’s okay for you to expect them to be prompt, responsive, professional, and kind. If they’re not meeting your established expectations, this is something that you should mention. If your relationship isn’t working out, contact us and we should be able to help you find a new mentor.
Establish a mutual understanding of expectations, in terms of the amount of commitment both parties the other person can invest, modes of communication, and response times. Be sure to come to an understanding about what the desired outcomes and mutually agree on how to get to that point by deadline.
Mentoring relationships do not emerge overnight and it’s possible that two people just don’t gel together to build an effective partnership. If you are ever uncomfortable with interactions you are having with your mentor, please contact us.