How do I maintain a connection with my mentor?

by | April 29, 2012

Podcast Description: The dissertation process is likely to last more than a year, and it may even last several years. As you move further into dissertation, you might find that you are not communicating with your mentor as much as you used to, and you might realize that a return to a regular communication schedule might help to keep you on track.

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.

How do you maintain connections and communication with the mentor throughout the entire dissertation process?

The simple answer is: you have to work on that communication throughout the entire time you are working on your dissertation. The relationship between a mentor and a mentee requires regular maintenance to keep it on track. Here are some ideas to help you keep that connection going.

First, establish a regular communication schedule and stick to it. Perhaps you and your mentor might decide that you will do a weekly check-in during your first few quarters in dissertation. Using your dissertation courseroom for that check-in is always a good idea. All you need to do is to let your mentor know what you were working on in the past week, and what you plan to work on in the coming week. As you get further into your dissertation, you both might realize that you do not need as much direction and guidance as you did in the early quarters, so the check-ins might happen every two or three weeks, instead. But keep the check-ins going throughout the entire process. Do not let yourself fall off your mentor’s radar.

Second, ask questions when that is appropriate. First, you might want to do your own homework. An amazing number of your questions can be answered on iGuide, so it is always a good idea to see if you can find some of those answers first. But when you cannot, then you should definitely ask your mentor. Keep in mind that your mentor probably cannot read your mind, and you probably cannot read your mentor’s mind. So ask those questions when you are unsure. And make sure you understand the answers.

Third, you want to make sure you are both on the same page. It might very well be that you and your mentor have a conversation about some issue and how you are going to handle it. One little communication tip that can save you hours of unnecessary work and anguish: after every phone conversation at which anything of substance is discussed, send a summary email to your mentor just to make sure you clearly understood. If you had misinterpreted any part of the conversation, you will be able to get back onto the right track immediately.

Fourth, communicate regularly and when you need information, but don’t become an email or phone pest to your mentor. Do you need to send an email with a question to your mentor every day? How many of those questions can you answer by checking iGuide or your own milestone transcript? How many of those questions would you be able to answer if you saved up all of your questions and sent only one email during the week?

Fifth, keep your communications with your mentor professional. If you are sending emails, make sure they are well written and punctuated appropriately. This is not the time to turn to your text messaging shortcuts.

And sixth, keep working at the communication. That might mean you will have to chat with your mentor at some point about maintaining the communication level. There is nothing wrong with communicating about communication.

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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