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Making the Most of Opportunities: Developing Relationships with Mentors
Erin Alexis Olson, MS, Student SIG Outlook liaison
"Work hard to find mentors that are as invested in you as you are in them."
~ Dave Marquez, Physical Activity SIG Co-chair
How do you get from A to Z? How do you get from being a student in training to becoming an independent researcher, a health practitioner, a teacher, a scientist, or a policy-maker? When I was younger I often became frustrated with being unable to do things perfectly. Without betraying too much of my personality traits, I'll tell you how my dad would respond. He told me that making good decisions and being successful requires wisdom; and wisdom requires experiences; and experience requires learning from other people and your own mistakes.
Mentors teach you how to learn, research, investigate, and create. They teach you how to learn from your peers and in turn lead them. Mentors show you how to create research designs, collect data, interact with patients or participants, write manuscripts and last but not least they can teach grant-writing! Mentors impart wisdom.
But what if I already have a mentor? I'm already in a PhD program with a great advisor. What more is there to do? The need for a mentor doesn't stop at graduation! It is doubtful the hooding ceremony will make you any more omniscient than you already are. Wherever you go next - whether it is academia, government, a clinical setting, or industry - you will greatly benefit from a productive mentorship.
How do you find mentors? Here are some ideas:
It is great to have mentors throughout the various stages of your career to help navigate the various opportunities and challenges. One of the benefits to finding a good mentor early on in one's career is that in addition to benefiting from the mentoring process, you can learn how to become a good mentor.