In my last blog post I shared how self-mentoring and understanding what you need in a mentor is the first step when finding a mentor. One of my first mentors was my aunt who is an electrical engineer and she gave me so much insight on my career. In high school I had a mentor that took me under her wing and helped me work on my Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) Application. I was so happy when I found out I got the GMS Scholarship, especially after opening a rejection letter from my dream college. These are just two examples of how mentors played a role in my life and I am grateful that they were my mentors. Fast forward years later one of my professors told me that I will need different types of mentors.
Different Types of Mentors:
A “Reason” Mentor:
One of my first types of mentors was a “reason” mentor in high school. A “reason” mentor is a short-term mentor that will help you achieve a specific goal. At that time I did not call this mentor my “reason” mentor. I went to three different high schools and many times I felt like an outlier. I went to a very diverse high school, a lacking diversity high school (where I was the only black girl in most of my classes), and a majority black high school. At each school I focused on getting straight A’s so I could go to college and earn my Ph.D. My goal was to become a scientist and help others. In order to achieve this goal I was on a mission to find a mentor and eventually I did.
The takeaway message of my story is the importance of mentoring. I was a teenager at the time and did not know all the ins and out of mentoring. A “reason” mentor helped me with my scholarship essays and college applications. I was able to achieve my goal by getting a full scholarship and go to college. I was then able to pass the knowledge to my classmates. Did you have a “reason” mentor in high school?
A “Season” Mentor:
Each of my “senior” mentoring experiences taught me a lot about myself and helped me be a better mentor. A “season” mentor is another example of a short-term mentor that you will have for a season. I liked having a “season” mentor because I had someone to bounce ideas off of which made it easier to figure out what steps to take next in my career.
All of my “season” mentors were mentors that I had during different transitional seasons of my career. Transitions are difficult and these were the times when I was stressed and had to deal with a lot of pressure. When I talked to my “season” mentor we had a mix of seriousness, laughter, and happiness when we shared our career journeys.
A “Lifetime” Mentor:
My favorite type of mentor is a “lifetime” mentor because these are the mentors that know me so well. A “lifetime” mentor is a long-term mentor. They know you so well that your “lifetime” mentor may feel like family. My “lifetime” mentors have seen me through the good, the bad and the ugly stages of my career. They are always rooting for me to win (like all mentors should). We have laughed, we have cried, we have had tough mentoring talks and they helped me think outside of the box.
Also one of the best things I have learned from having “lifetime” mentors is realizing the type of mentor I want to be. Having these types of mentors helped me find that a career that intersects STEM, education and communications was for me. I enjoy being surrounded by STEM undergraduates and graduates and want to mentor them. People have told me they can see me working for a STEM program and now I can see it in myself. I love to research, learn, mentor and inspire the future generations of scientists.
A “Near Peer” Mentor:
A “Near Peer” mentor is a mentor who is in your peer group and will show you the ropes of how to be successful in your academic or professional career. Just think about a “near peer” mentor as a person that you aspire to be.
Since I’m the oldest child in my family it was nice to have an upperclassmen “near peer” mentor to help me navigate the university’s many resources. My “near peer” mentors gave me great advice, encouraged me to take on leadership positions, and I was able to build lifelong friendships with my “near peer” mentors. I am grateful for all the “near peer” mentors and the engineering and science diversity office for providing the guidance I needed. This is another reason I am passionate about higher education of women and minorities in STEM.
A “Senior” Mentor:
I had a few “senior” mentors. A “senior” mentor is a mentor who is doing the things that you want to do in your career. They have been in their position for many years and have senior level expertise. A “senior” mentor is a great mentor to have because you be able to learn what to expect in a few years. I like talking to my “senior” mentors and listening to their career journeys because it gives me hope. I have met the majority of my “senior” mentors through networking and informational interviews.
Self-mentoring is mentoring yourself using books, articles or any other information you find that will help you in your career. Self-mentoring is something that everyone should at least try once. The first tool you will need to self-mentor is the myIDP tool.
The process of finding the right mentor(s) takes time. While I was self-mentoring I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses. This helped me with my career journey and learn how to be a better mentee and mentor.
I started Mademoiselle Scientist as a way to bring together the resources to help the next generation of scientists. My posts are tips that I wish I would have known while I was in college, graduate school and working as an early career scientist. My “reason”, “season”, “lifetime”, “near peer”, “senior” and self-mentoring experiences all were learning mentoring experiences and I encourage you all to find these types of mentors.
If you have a mentor make sure you stay in touch from time to time, thank them and show them you appreciate them. I am grateful for all of my mentors: past and present and look forward to finding another mentor. If you are mentor keep up the good work.
What type of mentors have made an impact on your career? Share below.