Stop Chasing the Mentorship ‘Unicorn’

Prof. Fabio Rojas Offers Advice on Finding Your Best Mentorship Match

When you have the right mentor, everything just clicks, and it can feel like magic. But as Fabio Rojas, professor of sociology at Indiana University Bloomington points out in a series of tweets, there is no “unicorn” of a mentor who checks all the boxes for you. Rather, he suggests students should know what traits to look for in a mentor that would benefit their specific needs the most.

The first trait Rojas suggests you look for or value in a mentor is the concept of “do no harm,” meaning toxic people aren’t worth pursuing as a mentor. That magic mentor/mentee relationship you’re looking for to help boost your success is not likely when the dynamic between you and your advisor is strained.  

From there, Rojas suggests evaluating what traits are going to be the most desirable for you and what your goals truly are in finding an advisor. A prestigious scholar? Someone who knows how to put together an engaging and well-rounded team? Taking stock the traits you’re looking for will help you in matching yourself with the right mentor.

A case can also be made for seeking out mentors with attention detail, who will thoroughly read through your works with a fine-toothed comb and offer feedback on proposals. This can also translate into reliability, a trait that might often be overlooked but incredibly crucial.

Lastly, Rojas stresses the importance of personality. Ultimately, good advisors come down to good working relationships. The ability to work together and have constructive feedback and dialogue is critical to the success of a mentor and mentee rapport.

For more publishing and academic career advice, visit our publishing resources page. Fabio Rojas is an IHS senior fellow for the study of liberalism and a free society. Information on funding opportunities and programs can be found on our website, TheIHS.org.

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