Mentor Selection & Development
Mentors play a key role in furthering professional goals at all career stages, particularly early on in the field of design. To be successful in research and as a mentee, you must establish clear goals and expectations for yourself, determine what actually interests you, be open to learning, correction, and even failures, and carefully choose your mentors. To be successful, a mentoring relationship requires commitment from both parties. An often, established mentors working in the professional realm, are richly rewarded through their exposure to students and their fresh approaches to their thesis projects. It is important not to expect everything from just one mentor. You may select one mentor for a particular specialty and another mentor for a complimentary expertise.
At this point, you have already identified some possible candidates to be asked to be your project mentors. You will need to find two mentors: professionals who can give you feedback and guidance for a successful final senior BFA project. The mentor cannot be a Cornish professor, friend or family member. You need to find professionals who have extensive knowledge regarding your project. The mentors can be present at the presentation via Skype if it is not possible for them to be there in person. This allows you to contact people outside the local area.
Cornish faculty will attend the final proposal review. It is not mandatory for your mentor to be present at this presentation, though you will want to send them your presentation in pdf form so they can see your progress. You will want to keep in contact with your mentors during the semester. It is important not to badger the person with constant emails, while keeping them informed enough of your progress to get quality feedback. Primarily your mentors will attend your final presentations. By this time they should have a good understanding of how the project is developing and what needs to be done to take it to the final.
In Choosing a Mentor, Consider the following points:
- Mutual respect: Choose someone with similar scientific interests whose work you respect and who has demonstrated an interest in your success.
- Feedback: Choose someone who is willing to provide honest and constructive critiques of your work and career path, and who has the time to devote to interactions with you.
- Shared interests: Your mentor should be someone with whom you have a common interest in your major career focus, whether it be a research area, education/teaching experiences, or clinical and administrative service.
- Shared project: Ideally, your mentor might have a project in which you can become involved. Participation in this project can teach you both the written and unwritten rules applicable in your particular field. These will be the documents you will be drafting in the service of engaging your mentors.
Mentor Outreach Communiqué
Your outreach communication will be key, not only in initiating your mentor relationship for your BFA thesis, but in initiating many new professional relationships.
Mentor Proposal – Who you are choosing, why they are appropriate mentors and how you will be communicating with them throughout your project. Post to blog
Mentor Outreach Draft (via LinkedIN) (in class) – Formal introduction/letter/request. Post to blog
– Make the subject line compelling
– Create connection with your mentor candidate with specifics. Your thesis topic should be somehow communicated in your brief introduction.
– Ask to meet before you ask to mentor. It’s likely the best approach to ask for a meeting first to get their input on your project. Once you meet, you can explore the mentorship possibility.
– Keep your request brief. Consider giving options to meet…or to speak via phone and thank them for their consideration