Multiple Mentors in the Mid-Atlantic

Friends and co-workers looking to apply to graduate programs have come to me for advice and it has been satisfying to be able to offer my two cents as a mini-mentor.  It is especially important to me to help out where I can because when I first considered applying to graduate school, I really didn’t have any guidance.  With a general idea of what I was interested in studying, I relied on a combination of Google searches, graduate student blogs, and blind guessing.  Since none of my friends had applyed to graduate school and no one in my family had gone through the process before, who was I supposed to look up to for advice and instruction?  It’s not like I could learn from the experiences of reality television role models on programs such as America’s Next Top PhD Candidate, Say Yes to the Stress, Who Never Wants to be a Millionaire, or So You Think You Can Pay off Your Loans.  (I hope you’re listening network television producers!)  All joking aside, in these planning stages I absolutely would have benefited from having a mentor to guide me through the process.

Relationships between mentor and mentee take different forms, but generally speaking a mentor is a professional who offers encouragement and advice to a younger person looking for direction.  These partnerships are invaluable and often teach rewarding lessons that are not covered in a traditional classroom setting.

The large majority of my peers who have meaningful mentor partnerships have linked up with professors with similar research interests but it doesn’t always have to be that way.  While professors have guided me through the sometimes murky academic waters, as someone who isn’t primarily concerned with starting a career in academia, I have found professional mentorships to be more valuable.  The best lessons I’ve learned have come from job supervisors willing to take me under their wing and teach me how to learn from their mistakes and successes.  To me, this is almost a dual mentorship because these folks navigated through similar educational situations, but are also able to offer practical career advice as well.

The first bit of advice I give out to anyone who will listen is to visit the website  It’s an engaging game that tricks people into learning vocabulary, grammar, and math skills.  In addition to preparing players for at the very least the GRE, with every right answer the sponsors of the site donate ten grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.  Check it out.