Being Mentored

The mentoring relationship is a two-way street. Both you and your mentor have a part to play.

Your faculty mentor or PI must:

  • Guide and monitor your training and progress 
  • Set clear expectations and ensure that you understand your responsibilities as a postdoc
  • Regularly and frequently communicate with you, provide regular and timely assessments of your performance. (Download the "Postdoctoral Scholar Annual Review" form and guidelines.)
  • Offer career advice 
  • Help you build the network of connections you will need to take the next step in your career when you finish your training

You will get the most out of your mentor if you...

Make time to meet regularly with your PI. Don’t wait around for your mentor to schedule meetings with you; ask for their time. When you meet, be prepared with questions and have your career goals in mind. An excellent way to get your thoughts together for these important conversations is to...

Get started on your IDP. Postdocs who complete an Individual Development Plan are more productive, have less conflict with their mentors, and are more satisfied with their postdoc experience. Using an IDP may even be a required exercise for postdocs on certain types of grant support. 

Listen and be willing to take criticism. Your mentor may not always have exclusively positive things to say about where your research is going or your progress in the lab, but this is not intended to deflate your ego. Learn from your mistakes and be open to your mentor’s guidance. 

Participate in external conferences and seminars related to your field of study. Your mentor should be able to recommend which conferences are essential for building your knowledge base and professional network. Apply for a postdoc travel award to help you attend. 

Find a second or even a third mentor if you aren’t getting everything you need from your PI. The mentor-mentee relationship does not need to be exclusive. More senior postdocs in your lab can be great second mentors. Look also to other faculty members and colleagues who are doing work in your area of interest – on or off campus. If you encounter significant or unmanageable challenges with your PI, tap into the resources available at UCSF to help you navigate difficulties in your relationship with your mentor