Have you ever had questions related to your career development that you didn’t know who to ask for answers for? Or have you ever felt that you would probably profit from having a mentor, but didn’t know who that mentor could be? Or do you have a great mentor but wonder whether you might be relying too heavily on him or her? Then this post is for you!

(This post, and the article referenced at the bottom, are heavily inspired by the work of Kerry Ann Rockquemore, especially this post, and workshops she gave for the Earth Science Women’s Network.)

So. Let’s get started. Do you even know what your current mentoring needs are? In the image below we suggest different kinds of mentoring needs that you will probably all encounter throughout your career, hopefully not all at the same time.

It is really helpful to try and identify a person for each of those fields that might possibly be able to help. If you fill out the blank spaces in the graphic below now, before you actually urgently need someone to fill a specific role, it’ll be very valuable once the time comes!

A “mentoring map” to help you identify your mentoring needs as well as who might be able to fill those needs.

If you aren’t quite sure what each of the fields above contains, the image below might give you ideas:

Mentoring map. What exactly are your mentoring needs?

And now that you know what your needs are, how do you actually identify possible mentors for each category? We give some ideas in the image below!

Mentoring map and where to find possible mentors for the different mentoring needs

Do you feel like you are taking unfair advantage of your mentors? Then maybe think about paying it forward. Be a sponsor to the student that stands out in your class and recommend her for a scholarship. Be the safe space your friend needs. Give substantial feedback on your office mate’s paper. Even if you feel you are nowhere near ready to “be someone’s mentor”, that is probably not true. Give back when the opportunity arises, and don’t feel bad to ask for the mentoring you need!

For more details, check out our article:

Glessmer, M.S., A. Adams, M.G. Hastings, R.T. Barnes, Taking ownership of your own mentoring: Lessons learned from participating in the Earth Science Women’s Network, published in The Mentoring Continuum: From Graduate School Through Tenure, Syracuse University Graduate School Press, ed. Glenn Wright, 2015.

Pdf of the chapter here.