Prior to entering medical school, I worked at a consulting firm in Washington, DC. The environment was fast-paced. I needed to learn on the job, so I found a mentor. She pulled me aside after a meeting and said point blank, “I want to help, but you need to keep me accountable. Find a system.”
I realized I needed to take ownership of our mentoring relationship and treat it as if I was consulting her for advice. We set up a bi-monthly standing meeting where we would review my progress, set priorities, and ask any questions about working with others at the firm.
The key part of this relationship was that I had to set the agenda and clearly communicate what I needed from my mentor. It allowed me to gain valuable feedback and gave me the space to grow professionally and as a person. When I decided to pursue medicine, she was on my team helping me plan how to balance my work with interviews.
“I needed to take ownership of our mentoring relationship.”Edgar Soto, Contributor, Med Student Edge
I strongly believe that this “managing-up” system I employed as a consultant which I now use with my mentoring relationship in medical school has helped me build lasting relationships and helped me pursue my passion of caring for others. In the next post, I will summarize the general principles of “managing up” and describe how you can integrate it into your workflow in order to develop successful research partnerships.
What strategies do you have for managing your relationships with mentors? Comment below.