Practice active mentoring. Don’t wait for your mentees to contact you, assuming that if you don’t get a request for help, none is needed. The opposite is often the case. New faculty (not unlike new students) may be reluctant to admit that they need help. Reach out.
Be clear about the kinds of help and support you are able to offer, and those you cannot. No one mentor can provide for all the needs of a new faculty member. Think of yourself not as the “one stop mentoring shop,” but as the person who can connect them with the resources they need.
Be aware of social difference, which comes in many forms: racial and ethnic, gender, socio-economic, geographical, sexual orientation, age/generational, disability. Do not make assumptions that others’ experiences are like yours. Allow for the possibility that your mentees may have needs or sensitivities that are related to their particular social position. Attempt to respond to their expressed needs and perspectives supportively and non-judgmentally.
Listen carefully for what your mentees don’t say, as well as what they do share. If you encounter avoidance or defensiveness, do not assume that this means that the subject is off limits. Perhaps it can be approached in a different way, at a different time.
Do everything you can to protect the confidentiality of the information your mentees share with you, but ask for support if you are facing a situation you don’t know how to handle. You can always contact Associate Provost Pérez or the director of the LTC for additional support or suggestions, or encourage your mentees to do so directly.
If for whatever reason your relationship with your mentees just isn’t working, talk to your cohort senior faculty partner, or discuss this with Associate Provost Pérez.
Mentoring is a responsibility, to be sure, but it need not be a burden. Rather, it should be a source of satisfaction to help guide younger colleagues through the early years of their career at Carleton. The help you offer your mentees will likely have ripple effects for other faculty down the road. The investment you make in these relationships will benefit your mentees and our faculty as a whole.