Ihre Job Mail wurde erfolgreich kreiert.

How to Find an Academic Mentor

It can be challenging as a PhD student or postdoc to start building a successful academic career. Having someone who can share their wisdom with you and offer encouragement is an invaluable asset. While your supervisor can fulfil some of these functions, many PhD students and postdocs also choose to seek out an academic mentor.

There are several benefits to having a mentor. They can, first and foremost, help you achieve your professional and personal goals. A mentor can act as a sounding board and offer advice when you are facing a challenge. As someone in a more senior position, a mentor can share valuable insights about the profession. Your mentor can also facilitate important networking opportunities.

Before you start looking for a mentor, spend some time thinking about what you want to get out the mentorship experience. Why do you want a mentor? What are your career goals? A mentor can be particularly useful when you are transitioning to the next phase of your career. Also think about what sort of skills would you like to learn. Mentorship is a great way to fill essential gaps in both technical and soft skills.            

Once you have established why you want a mentor, it’s time to start thinking about who you want as your mentor. Try to find someone who can help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Your collaborators are often a good place to start as you already have a professional relationship with them. Your colleagues might also be able to suggest researchers they think you would get along with. Here are some tips to keep in mind when seeking out potential mentors:           

  • Your mentor shouldn’t be someone who directly manages you. Your supervisor will undoubtedly fill some of the functions of a mentor, but you should also seek out someone external.
  • While not as established as a more senior professor, junior faculty can be incredible mentors because they have been in your position more recently.
  • Don’t limit yourself by only seeking out mentors at your university. Consider mentors from other institutions who will have a completely different network than you.
  • Consider mentors working outside of your current research area. They can bring a valuable new perspective to your work.
  • If you are a member of a group that is underrepresented is academia, such as a queer person, a person of colour, a person with a disability, or a woman, you may want to seek out a mentor who will share your perspective.

Now that you have some potential mentors in mind, reach out to them and see if they are open to meeting with you, ideally in person. Contact a couple different people You want to have multiple mentors who can each support you in different, complementary ways. Invite your potential mentors to an informational interview so you can decide if the two of you are a good fit. While you might be a good match on paper, your personalities may clash in real life. After your meeting, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they understand your goals?
  • How often are they available to meet?
  • Do they have the same philosophy towards work/life balance as you?
  • Have they been a successful mentor in the past?
  • What is their mentorship philosophy?
  • Do they seem supportive?
  • Do you get along?
  • Would you feel comfortable coming to them with a problem?

If you determine that you’re a good fit, make a personal development plan together. Identify areas and competencies you want to work on and determine what steps you are going to take to improve. Decide how often the two of you will check in on your progress. You should maintain regular contact with your mentor so that you stay on track, but also to cultivate your relationship. Don’t forget that mentorship isn’t a one-way street. You should also be adding value to the relationship by sharing your skills and expertise with your mentor. Even though you have less experience, you can still bring a new perspective.

Good luck in your search for an academic mentor!




During your PhD, you’re not just learning about your research topic. You’re also learning core skills that apply to jobs both in and out of academia.

By Academic Positions
Posted Sep 21, 2018 at 08:00am

Twitter has a lot of value for academics as a professional social network and news service. 1 in 40 scholars in the US and UK use Twitter and that number continues to grow. If you’re not already on Twitter here’s how to use it to share your research, connect with your peers,...

By Academic Positions
Posted Sep 11, 2018 at 08:00am

Certain professional skills including communication, leadership, teamwork, and project management are valued by employers across a wide range of sectors.

By Academic Positions
Posted Sep 04, 2018 at 08:00am

A good work-life balance contributes to your overall mental and physical health. Since graduate students are six times more likely to experience depression or anxiety than the general population, achieving a good work-life balance should be one of your top priorities.

By Academic Positions
Posted Aug 31, 2018 at 08:00am

All good mentors share a few of the same characteristics and skills. Whether you’re an experienced mentor looking for a quick refresher or a former mentee who’s been asked to be a mentor for the first time, it never hurts to go over some mentorship basics.

By Academic Positions
Posted Aug 24, 2018 at 08:00am

In order to guarantee you make a good impression, here are the nine biggest interview mistakes to avoid.

By Academic Positions
Posted Aug 17, 2018 at 08:00am

While a good cover letter makes an explicit connection between how your past experience will help you succeed in the postdoc position, a great cover letter sparks the PI’s interest and ensures they read your CV.

By Academic Positions
Posted Aug 14, 2018 at 08:00am

How many times have you been asked, “What do you research?” only to draw a complete blank or ramble on for minutes? Situations like these are why you need an elevator pitch.

By Academic Positions
Posted Aug 10, 2018 at 08:00am

When applying for a postdoc position, fellowship, or grant you will often be asked to submit a research proposal as part of your application.

By Academic Positions
Posted Aug 07, 2018 at 08:00am