What qualities are you looking for?

I am no longer “fresh.” I was assigned two mentees from the incoming students.

I got hold of their surveys first before I reached out.

The last two questions were interesting.

What qualities are you looking for in a mentor?

What’s the first question you want to ask your mentor?

I think these two questions are almost more important than those asking opinions about a certain taste. These two questions reveal a person’s character. I certainly don’t think there is just one answer. But I do find some are a bit better than the others.

One student was looking for a cane while the other was looking for a gate.

What’s the difference?

  • The cane student wants to know all the right answers to all the questions.
  • The gate student needs to know just enough towards the goals.

Wait, I thought this is grad school. Aren’t we responsible for our own success and failure?

We are. Mentors or not, we are the ones who do the heavy-lifting.

Nobody else.

Last year when I just arrived, I didn’t try to seek all the answers all at once. I was acutely aware of my mentor’s time, so I didn’t badger the guy all that much. All I know is this — the work won’t get done by itself. No matter how I tell you about my own writing habits and schedule, you won’t get a quick fix.

There are many different ways to frame a question. But behind those questions, there lies the fundamentals of our understanding towards the task.

I then looked into my survey from last year. The quality that I was looking for in a mentor is this —

Candor.