How can effective mentoring relationships benefit me?

Research has shown that effective mentoring relationships promote graduate student satisfaction, success, retention, time-to-degree and job placement. Ineffective mentors and a lack of mentorship, on the other hand, are correlated with longer time to degree, attrition, and decreased satisfaction and perceived success. Lyons et al. (1990) found that graduate students who worked closely with a faculty mentor had a "fuller education" than their counterparts who did not, especially in terms of students' socialization into the norms and methods of their disciplines.  Golde (1998) suggests the importance of mentoring in early academic socialization (including both support and authentic research experiences that help students envision and make crucial decisions about their disciplinary futures), while Chao (1997) found that, though the perceived benefits of mentoring differed according to what "phase" the mentoring relationship was in (Initiation, cultivation, separation, or redefinition, as defined by Kram 1985), mentoring positively affected career planning and perceived success during and long after the mentoring relationship waned. Overall, the research strongly suggests that effective faculty mentoring relationships have both important "career" and "psycho-social" functions that support graduate student success at each stage of professional socialization (Kram 1985).

At the same time, researchers have increasingly emphasized the importance of multiple mentoring relationships with both faculty and fellow students. de Janasz and Sullivan (2003) cite several studies in support of multiple mentoring, which"can provide a protege with a variety of developers with different perspectives, knowledge, and skills and who can serve different mentoring functions such as being a role model or providing career-related or emotional support" (264). Such research encourages us to rethink our definitions of effective mentoring to recognize that one mentor is unlikely to provide every aspect of support for a student; fostering the most effective mentoring relationships may mean letting go of the idea that any one mentor will be the source of mentoring benefits.