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Settling In: The Researcher's Guide to Your University

5.8 Sustaining the relationship

Not all mentoring relationships succeed and not all will be enduring partnerships. There are many factors which can impact on the durability. In some cases, the personalities may be ill-suited. In others, the need is short term rather than a long-term focus. Some researchers find that they may outgrow their mentor or their experience alters their research base and shifts the focus. While there are many cogent reasons for non-continuation, there are also factors that impede a potentially successful partnership. Some important principles in sustaining the relationship include:

  • Treat the mentorship as a priority. Do not cancel meetings – you need to maintain the momentum and connection
  • If you have concerns or issues, share them with your mentor/mentee in an honest but sensitive fashion. Hidden issues will fester and poison the relationship
  • Always be prepared. This is a high priority to ensure your discussions are fruitful and productive
  • Try to create a relationship where both parties benefit
  • Recognise that the relationship will change over time as the mentee learns and grows
  • Look for additional learning opportunities. The mentee might, for example, shadow the mentor for a day
  • Aim for a learning process which is reflective and open to new experiences. This is important for both parties
  • Always set the date for the next meeting before you part – and put it in your diary.

This outline of mentorship is a brief review of research mentorship. It is a very important means of working your way into a university setting. Don't ignore its power!

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