Hello darlings -
Welcome to the jungle. Let's rock our goals this week!
This week starts a mini-series on mentoring. We are going to talk about how to:
- find good mentors that aren't piles of shit
- develop the right set of mentors (building off this mentoring map from NCFDD)
- be good to your mentors so they don't hate you
- not fuck up being a mentor to other people
What are your mentoring challenges? What other mentoring topics do you want to hear about? Answer a short survey here!
For the first topic, we are talking strategies to be a good peer mentor. That's right, friends: you can and should be a mentor to other people.
Why do we need peer mentors?
- the olds in our departments, universities, and disciplines are often (mostly) shitty mentors
- the olds that do actually give a shit are totally fucking overwhelmed and overburdened
- it makes academia less shitty
- academic is changing (fast!) so even the olds that are good mentors might not understand the lives of junior academics
- it makes other people's lives less shitty
- our lives are isolating and lonely and mentoring our peers can help with that
- no one person can be everything to anyone and peer mentors distribute the load around to multiple people
- peer mentoring building community and centers you in interconnected networks
- it makes you a less shitty person
So what are the ways that you can be a good peer mentor to other people? What kinds of peer mentors should you find? Here are simple ways you can help other people:
No committee - can you help a friend decide whether to say yes or no to a dumbass service task?
Feedback - can you provide feedback for others on their work, job market materials, teaching statements, or syllabi?
Hype - can you amplify someone's cool work? I talked about how to do that here
Accountability - can you help keep other people on track and not fucking around?
Check-in - can you just check in with a friend to make sure they aren't drowning in despair?
"No, that shit is real" // "Yeah he really said that" // gaslight defense - can you confirm someone else's shitty racist or sexist or homophobic experience, especially when someone is being gaslighted?
Hidden knowledge - can you tell someone how shit really is? Can you give them access to tools and resources?
"It happened to me too" // collective experience - can you help someone feel like they aren't alone and that their experiences are valid?
Let's burn it down together - can you help someone dismantle our fucking racist, sexist, homophobic, elitist institutions?
Cheerleader - can you reassure someone that they are doing a good job and that they can, indeed, do hard things?
Reality check - can you make sure that someone is grounded and is doing what they need to do?
Want to know more? Here's an article that Erin Cassese and I wrote about using a writing group to facilitate peer mentoring!
So - your homework this week (in addition to filling out the mentoring survey) is to think about how you can peer mentor someone. Pick (at least) one of these activities and get to work!