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The qualities of a good protégé include effective communication, trust, flexibility, patience, openness, optimism, and persistence. Make sure to embody these qualities as well as follow these tips:
- Identify the expectations of both the mentor and protégé by outlining what each person wants from this relationship. Ask about the educational background of your mentor.
- Identify your mentoring needs and how they change over time. Be aware of your own needs, deficits, strengths, and goals.
- Find the group of people who can fulfill those needs. Find multiple mentors for different advice and perspectives.
- Take a proactive role in seeking mentoring. Identify a role model and don’t be afraid to ask that person to mentor you.
- Be able to “hear” the mentor’s advice even if it is not what you want to hear. Be open to constructive criticism. This includes being open to alternate career suggestions.
- Give an adequate time commitment to being mentored. Recognize that mentoring is a lifelong process.
- Prepare with strategies to be discussed to help optimize goals and focused, specific questions. Focus on topics to allow fruitful exchange.
- Appreciate the importance of being mentored and networking at all stages of your career.
- “Pay it forward” and mentor someone else.
Adapted from the Celebration of Women in Neuroscience discussion, “Top Five Priorities to Get the Most out of Mentoring and Networking.”