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Younger or Older Mentor

zbombvt

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Jan 26, 2006
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I think there are pros and cons to having either professor, so let me place stereotypes on each type:

Young: Determined, energetic, full of new big ideas
Old: Experienced, well-established, security in tenure

Young: Not established in the field and might never be
Old: Jaded, potential to have lost touch with students

As I said above broad stereotypes. I have seen professors who are able to fill the pros of both age groups, so it can certainly be done.
 
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joetro

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Yes, there are pros and cons to both situations, I would think. The advice about fit is very important. One thing about being young is that they might not get tenure, or they might move, especially during their tenure year if another offer comes along. Of course more established people move too!
 

LM02

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As others have said, there are pros and cons to each.

One important thing to consider that hasn't been mentioned is that an established tenured professor may be more willing to throw a first-authored publication your way. Or, even moreso, less likely to "claim" a first authorship that is rightfully yours.

You want to make sure that the junior faculty member realizes that a student's success is just as much his/her success - sometimes that's hard for new faculty to grasp, especially when they are just coming out of postdoc.

However, just as I have seen junior faculty who maintain the cut-throat postdoc mentality, I have met others who are very supportive and nurturing. I would go with your gut, and how well connected each person is. Even junior faculty have meaningful connections that can make a difference in your career (e.g., their own advisors, internship experiences, etc.)
 
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