What makes a good mentor?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

jbing

Senior Member
15+ Year Member
20+ Year Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2003
Messages
181
Reaction score
1
I kept hearing people say in another thread how important it is to work with a "good mentor" for the phd part of your md/phd, but I'm not quite certain what to look for in a mentor. Thoughts?

Members don't see this ad.
 
jbing said:
I kept hearing people say in another thread how important it is to work with a "good mentor" for the phd part of your md/phd, but I'm not quite certain what to look for in a mentor. Thoughts?

1. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

2. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

3. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

4. Someone with adequate funding.

5. Often good to avoid the highly energetic assistant profs who have never had a student before; also advisable to avoid the big name high power guys who will use you as slave labor until your eyes bleed.

6. Nice to have some other students/post docs around. They provide great camraderie and guidance. Beware being the only one in a lab, but also beware being in a gymnasium-sized sweatshop of scientific discovery.

7. Someone who's not going to complain about you keeping liquor in your desk drawer. We covered a box-o-wine in aluminum foil, wrote "light sensitive" and "RNase-free only" on it, and put it on the shelf. Worked like a charm.
 
Havarti666 said:
1. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

2. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

3. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

4. Someone with adequate funding.

5. Often good to avoid the highly energetic assistant profs who have never had a student before; also advisable to avoid the big name high power guys who will use you as slave labor until your eyes bleed.

6. Nice to have some other students/post docs around. They provide great camraderie and guidance. Beware being the only one in a lab, but also beware being in a gymnasium-sized sweatshop of scientific discovery.

7. Someone who's not going to complain about you keeping liquor in your desk drawer. We covered a box-o-wine in aluminum foil, wrote "light sensitive" and "RNase-free only" on it, and put it on the shelf. Worked like a charm.

here here. the above list is right on.

- yes, you want your fellow students to have actually graduated on time
- you want someone who considers being your advisor a responsibility on their part as well as on yours (i.e. they are responsible for guiding you and getting you out in a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable project completed)
- look at how their former (and current) students feel
- look at how well they do (i.e. publish, go to meetings, etc)
- make sure you like them and they are "talk to-able" - you're gonna be talking to them/throwing ideas around with them for several years
- and make sure you like them
- and make sure there are other students around

i worked in a lab in which i was not fostered, and i felt physically ill entering every day. it was a nightmare.
i left that lab after a short period of time and went back to another lab i had worked in where i had fun every day. i loved going to work. that was a good environment, and a good mentor. and we're close even to this day.
 
Members don't see this ad :)
dr.z said:
Make sure the mentor publishes on regular basis. Publications are very important.
absolutely! it's all about publications!

without publications, you're on unsteady ground when it comes to when you'll end up defending.

with publications, it's easy sailing...just defend the damn thesis and move on!
 
Havarti666 said:
1. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

2. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

3. Someone with a proven track record of graduating students in a reasonable amount of time.

4. Someone with adequate funding.

I completely agree with this advice. People get all hung up about whether the lab's research is cutting edge or not. But you'll probably not be doing your PhD research as your career anyway, so worry instead about getting your PhD in a reasonable amount of time from a guy (or lady) who is a human being, and don't worry about whether you're in the hottest lab if the above criteria are met.
 
QofQuimica said:
I completely agree with this advice. People get all hung up about whether the lab's research is cutting edge or not. But you'll probably not be doing your PhD research as your career anyway, so worry instead about getting your PhD in a reasonable amount of time from a guy (or lady) who is a human being, and don't worry about whether you're in the hottest lab if the above criteria are met.
very true...worry about working for a bigwig when you're doing a postdoc...a bigwig who has a lot of power and will still pick up the phone on your behalf and help you get that asst. prof job!
 
Top