Thomas Valente

Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography
Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography

Keck School of Medicine of USC

Mentoring provides intellectual space and encouragement so people can reach their full career potential. In my experience, mentoring is a very personal process. There isn’t a formula that fits all people, or a model that maps it. It begins with establishing a relationship between the mentor and mentee. The relationship has to be built on trust and a commitment by the mentor to maintain the best interests of the mentee. Mentors can then begin the process of helping their mentees articulate their intellectual interests as well as career goals and objectives (and personal and/or family goals).

This should provide the mentee the space to think expansively about the kinds of research questions and paths that will lead to an engaging and productive career. Mentoring thus provides the opportunity for investigators to identify their passions so that their work is engaging, fulfilling, and meaningful; and the mentor can then assemble the necessary scaffolding so the mentee can advance his/her career. The mentor provides the tools, resources, and contacts the mentee needs to accomplish his/her work. Given the space and resources, the mentee can then have the courage to launch a successful career.