“A lot of the training and socialization that happens in our field
is very interpersonal, and those
elements aren’t necessarily structured into your coursework,” he
says. So students should recognize that they need others who
are more advanced in the field to
guide them, he says.
■ Seek many mentors. The
complexity of grad school and
crafting a career trajectory means
that one mentor is not enough.
To succeed, students need men-
tors to help them gain skills in a
range of relevant areas, whether
it’s in academia, research, net-
working or other.
University of Missouri psy-
chology professor Lisa Flores,
PhD, for instance, recommends
that students have one mentor
for their research development,
one for networking and find-
ing service opportunities, and
another for navigating the world
of practice. She also encour-
ages students to seek mentors at
different career stages—not just
full-fledged faculty or profes-
sionals, but peer mentors as well.
“Each person has something
different that they can contribute
to your career,” she says. Students
should also ask others to recommend people who can guide
them, such as advisors, faculty
members and fellow students.
Students in research-oriented
programs are particularly likely
to need more than one mentor—
faculty who can address different
aspects of the science they are
studying, whether in content or
methodology, says Choi.
■ Choose thoughtfully ...
Students should think about the
added significance for students
of color because they may
internalize stereotypes that
they’re in school simply because
of affirmative action, says Cokley,
whose results are in press at the
Journal of Counseling Psychology.
“So when you combine that
with what most grad students
feel about imposterism,” he says,
“it becomes racialized.”
Fortunately, there are ways to
overcome such challenges and
find great mentors who can help
students achieve their highest
potential. Here’s advice from stu-
dents and psychologists versed in
this valuable relationship:
■ Know that you need them.
Mentors aren’t a luxury—they’re
a necessity, says Andy Choi,
a fourth-year student at the
University of California, Santa
Barbara, and member of the
APAGS Science Committee.