How do I approach the first meeting with my mentor?

by | April 29, 2012

Podcast Description: The key relationship in your doctoral journey is with your dissertation mentor. Find out how you can get off on the right foot.

Transcript: The following presentation is a production of Capella University and is not intended for commercial use.

Welcome to another topic in a series of podcasts regarding aspects of the comprehensive exam and dissertation process.

One of the most important relationships you’ll have in your doctoral program is with your dissertation mentor. This relationship is crucial to your success. Take steps to ensure that your relationship is a good one, where trust and ongoing communication are the norm.

This podcast shares several strategies to help ensure your first meeting with your mentor is productive.

If you haven’t done so, e-mail your mentor and introduce yourself and your research interests. Share the good news that you’ve passed the comprehensive exams, and that you’d like to set up a time for a phone conversation. Include several options for times and dates that work for you. Remember to ask what time zone he or she is in, so there is clarification on when the meeting will take place. There’s nothing worse than missing an important call by an hour or two because of time zones!

The first phone meeting sets the foundation for your relationship. We recommend that you read about your mentor through the faculty or mentor biographies on iGuide. You may also want to talk about what research he or she has done, is currently conducting, or what his or her research plans are for the future. Consider asking your mentor about his or her dissertation topic. In other words, get to know your mentor. And remember to acknowledge your mentor as “Doctor.”

After you share initial introductions with your mentor, discuss the frequency and method for checking in with each other. Each mentor has a preference for communicating with mentees. Don’t forget to use the 9920 courseroom as a means of communication. You will want to submit your work in that courseroom anyway. Together with your mentor, decide if it is appropriate to have more frequent contact as you get comfortable with the dissertation process. The amount of contact with your mentor may depend on where you are in the dissertation or what your needs are.

Remember to share your preferences with your mentor. After all, this is a relationship, and it is important to share your wishes, too.

If your mentor prefers to communicate via e-mail rather than phone, ask what circumstances warrant a phone call. Would a phone call be appropriate for debriefing feedback on your work? If so, find out what is the best time to call.

Next, move to your dissertation. Share your research interest and methodology. Ask for initial feedback and guidance regarding your research questions and problem statement that you’d like to study. Then ask your mentor for next steps and advice.

Also, ask if your mentor requires a pre-proposal or for those learners in Psychology, the MRF. The pre-proposal or MRF is the skeleton on which learners base their first three chapters.

In addition, discuss your mentor’s preferred order of writing the proposal chapters. For example, does your mentor prefer that you write Chapter 1 first, then Chapter 3? Or Chapter 3, and then 2? Or Chapter 1, then 2, and then 3?

Finally, ask your mentor for their preference for submitting drafts of your dissertation for feedback. For example, should you send the whole chapter, part of a chapter, or all three chapters at the same time?

These talking points will set the foundation for an important relationship. The information you gather will enable you to effectively begin the dissertation writing process and foster a good, working relationship. Your first meeting with your mentor will be the first of many. Remember to be proactive and engaged. Keep your mentor in your dissertation writing loop!

Remember, you bring unique circumstances to your doctoral journey. Follow-up with your doctoral advisor for clarification and additional information about the dissertation process.

This presentation has been brought to you by Capella University and may not be re-transmitted or used for any commercial purpose without the expressed written consent of Capella University.

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