Looking for Professor Right: mentee selection of mentors in a formal mentoring program
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- Bell, A. & Treleaven, L. High Educ (2011) 61: 545. doi:10.1007/s10734-010-9348-0
Finding a suitable mentor is crucial to the success of mentoring relationships. In the mentoring literature, however, there is conflicting evidence about the best ways to support the pairing process in organisational mentoring programs. This paper presents a detailed analysis of the pairing process in an academic mentoring program that has implications for building a mentoring culture in higher education. The program which began with a pilot and has continued for five years with one hundred and twenty one participants, was conducted with mentees selecting their own mentor from a pool of mentors who volunteered to be part of the program. In the pilot program, where mentors and mentees first met as one group, some mentees reported that the process of selecting and approaching a mentor was uncomfortable and intimidating. Nine of twenty-three potential mentees did not form mentoring relationships. Analysis of subsequent program evaluation data pointed to the importance of two factors in the pairing process: personal connections and facilitation of the selection process. This study at a research-intensive university demonstrates that when the pairing process is tailored to individual mentees, they are comfortable selecting a mentor and to then develop a successful mentoring relationship.