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IARR Mentoring Program for Graduate Students/Early Career Professionals

Mission Statement:
The IARR Mentoring Program is designed to serve as an informal forum for graduate students and early career professionals (mentees) to develop a dialogue with more senior scholars in the field (mentors). By connecting graduate students and early career professionals with established scholars in the field, the program aims to provide mentees with helpful advice related to their professional development, which can aid mentees in making progress toward their career goals. Mentors will also benefit by contributing to the development and success of the new generation of relationship scholars, thereby promoting growth in the field. Mentorship is expected to last approximately one year.

Target Mentees and Mentors:
Mentees will typically fall into one of two categories: (1) graduate students within 2 years of finishing their terminal degree (MA or PhD) or (2) early career professionals up to 4 years post-doctoral. Mentors mentoring graduate students will typically have at least 4 years of experience in the field (i.e., 4 years post PhD). Mentors mentoring early career professionals will typically have at least 8 years of experience in the field (i.e., 8 years post PhD).

Pairing of Mentees and Mentors:
To facilitate pairings, interested mentors and mentees are asked to complete a brief online survey. Suggested pairings are determined based on the match between the mentees and mentors area of interest and/or goals for the mentoring program.

Expectations and Goals:
What to expect. IARR’s Mentoring Program is designed to allow mentees and mentors to mutually establish expectations on a case-by-case basis, rather than setting concrete, program-wide expectations for all mentorships. We encourage mentees and mentors to establish guidelines for the mentoring relationship (e.g., areas for mentoring and frequency/modes of communication) early in their initial interaction. This affords each mentor-mentee pair to flexibly determine how much they hope to get out of their mentoring relationship by setting person-specific outcome goals. However, we encourage mentor-mentee pairs to virtually meet at least once every 1-2 months (see Frequency of Contact section below).

What not to expect. Mentors of graduate students are not expected to act as a second major advisor, or as a replacement for a student’s current advisor at the student’s home institution. For instance, mentors are not expected to become dissertation committee members, readers of mentee’s papers, or statistical tutors.

Mentors are not necessarily expected to serve as a letter writer for future scholarships, fellowships, or academic positions. Advice and discussions will not typically include the level of detail and depth that is expected of a student’s major advisor. Mentors should simply function as an additional source of professional support for mentees.

Below, we have provided a list of potential areas of support for mentoring. Keep in mind that all mentoring relationships are different. Some may involve many of the areas below, while others might center on discussions unrelated to the areas of support given below.

Suggested areas of support:
Discussions between mentors and mentees may typically fall under broad areas such as:
- Applying for fellowships/grants
- Collaborating with other scholars
- Developing a program of research
- Engagement in department/institutional service activities
- Engagement in professional service activities (e.g., reviewing for journals; service to professional organizations)
- Exploring non-academic collaborations
- Exploring non-academic jobs or internships
- Managing relationships with academic advisors or supervisors
- Managing relationships with departmental/organizational colleagues
- Teaching
- The publication process
- Tenure and promotion
- Work/family balance
- Writing a thesis/dissertation
- Other [specify]

The Roles of Mentors and Mentees:
The role descriptions and expectations below are provided merely as a potential guide or helpful suggestion. This information serves as a broad overview of the general expectations of the mentoring relationship.

Mentors. Mentors are expected to commit to a 1-year mentorship period. This mentorship will begin by mentors initiating contact with the mentee as soon as they are paired. As part of initial contact, mentors should aim to do the following:
- Make relevant introductions (e.g., mentor’s background, current areas of expertise, particular strengths as a mentor, goals and view of mentoring relationship)
- Elicit the mentee’s goals and expectations and work with her/him to determine whether the mentees expectations are reasonable, and to assess the feasibility and timeline for a mentee’s goals, based on the strengths and limitations of both parties.
- Be clear about their own expectations of the relationship, what s/he is able and willing to provide, and whether s/he can meet the mentee’s expectation
- Be supportive, rather than critical or negative in providing feedback and advice.
- Work with the mentee to develop a regular schedule of contact, based on the needs/desires of the mentee. Ideally, mentors should virtually meet with mentees at least once every 1-2 months.

Mentees. Mentees should be forthcoming about their abilities, interests, goals, and scholarly concerns once they are contacted initially by their suggested mentors. As part of this initial contact, mentees should aim to do the following:
- Make relevant introductions (e.g., current professional status [year in graduate school or current professional position], background, areas of expertise)
- Communicate core areas of concern for professional development
- Clearly communicate strengths and weaknesses to mentor so that appropriate and useful goal-setting can take place.
- Be clear about expectations of the mentoring relationship so that appropriate and feasible goal-setting can take place.
- Lay out an overview of current one-year professional development goals.
- Be receptive to feedback received from mentor, keeping in mind that mentors offer advice informed by their unique experiences.
- Openly seek mentor’s support when needed or desired. Ask questions and address problems actively as they come up.
- Be aware and considerate of the expectations, time and availability of their mentor.

Frequency of Contact:
Mentors and mentees should expect to contact each other about once per month. Contact can occur via any medium that is most effective for both mentors and mentees, including but not limited to email, phone, Zoom, and Skype/Google Hangouts. Additionally, if possible, mentees and mentors are encouraged to schedule a time to meet in person at IARR (and other related) conferences.

Mentoring relationships require trust and open communication between mentors and mentees. Any communications between mentors and mentees should be kept confidential.

Troubleshooting the mentorship:
Occasionally, the mentoring relationship does not work out. There are a number of personal and/or situation reasons that this can occur – mismatch between the styles of the mentor and mentee, communication issues, insufficient participation from one or both parties, situational constraints on participation in the program (e.g., unexpected difficult events, life transitions such as parenthood). If these sorts of issues come up, it is best to first try to address them with the mentor/mentee. If doing so does not help fix things, please contact one of the co-chairs of the mentoring committee, either Lisa Neff or Kellie Brisini. They will work with you to try and find a solution.

End of year evaluation:
At the end of the year, both mentors and mentees will be asked to complete a short survey evaluating their experiences with the mentoring program. This survey will primarily be an open-ended narrative-style reflection on each person’s experiences and is intended to gather information on the strengths and weaknesses of the program across all participants. In other words, all information will be aggregated across those who complete the survey to obtain a general sense of the overall effectiveness of the program rather than an evaluation of specific mentees or mentors.

Extending the mentee-mentor relationship:
After the end of the year, mentors and mentees can choose to continue their mentoring relationship informally if both parties agree to do so. At such a time, the mentoring relationship no longer falls under the purview of the IARR Mentoring Program and its guidelines.