Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

What You Get When You Give: How Graduate Students Benefit from Serving as Mentors

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

What You Get When You Give: How Graduate Students Benefit from Serving as Mentors

Article excerpt

This study utilizes a social exchange framework to analyze the qualitative narratives of 81 graduate student mentors participating in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate Internship at The University of Texas at Austin. Findings suggest that in addition to personal benefits, mentorship has four major professional benefits: a deeper perspective both on themselves and their academic discipline; the development of advising and mentoring skills; contributing to the diversity of their academic and professional field by assisting an emerging scholar from an underrepresented population; and knowledge that mentoring can assist both mentees and mentors in reaching their goals.

The importance of mentoring has been widely touted in business, education, and psychological research. Also referred to as "developmental relationships" (Kram, 1988), mentoring can be understood broadly as associations between senior and junior individuals focused on the junior members' personal and/ or career development and individual growth. These relationships meet two primary needs: career support and socio-emotional support. This broad definition includes long- and short-term relationships, as well as mentors who are formally assigned to protégés and relationships that have developed organically and informally. Much of the empirical and anecdotal literature addresses the ways in which protégés or junior members of mentoring relationships benefit from their interactions with mentors (Allen, Poteet, & Burroughs, 1997; Crisp and Cruz, 2009; Jacobi, 1991; Kram, 1988; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Ragins & Scandura, 1999). The experiences and outcomes of mentors have been given less attention, particularly in studies of mentoring relationships in academic contexts. Thus, this study examines data collected from graduate student mentors to explore the impact of participation in the mentoring program with an undergraduate student on their personal development, professional development, and growth as citizen-scholars, individuals who creatively utilize their intellectual capital as a lever for social good (Intellectual Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Consortium, 2009).

Ensher and Murphy (2005) state that when addressed, the decision to participate in a developmental relationship is often described and perceived as a selfless act by a mentor - a decision which ultimately provides benefits for others, but results in little personal benefit. In fact, research on developmental relationships, particularly within universities, has rarely addressed mentor benefits. Rather, researchers illustrate how mentoring is often described as time consuming and emotionally exhausting for the senior members of the relationship (i.e. Aguirre, 2000; Allen, et al., 1997; Banks, 1984; Gibb, 1999; Tierney & Bensimon, 1996). An emergent body of literature, however, suggests that mentorship is in fact more reciprocal, with protégés and mentors accruing significant benefits (e.g. Allen, et al., 1997; Boice, 1990; Burke, McKeen, & McKenna, 1994; Ensher & Murphy, 2005; Ragins & Cotton, 1993; Ragins & Scandura, 1999). Much of this research has been conducted utilizing a social exchange framework, which suggests humans are rational, self-interested actors who want to maximize their own goals. While every relationship is perceived as having some form of cost, individuals participate in relationships where they perceive potential in gaining access to resources, enabling them to reach goals that they are not able to reach by themselves (Emerson, 1981; Lawler «Sc Thye, 1999). Thus, rather than engaging in relationships for altruistic reasons, individuals engage in a cost-benefit analysis prior to participating (Emerson, 1981); costs are subtracted from benefits, leaving something akin to a "profit" associated with the formation of a relationship (Homans, 1958).

When viewed through a social exchange framework, mentorship is a relationship from which mentors and mentees should benefit. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.