[We’re pleased to welcome author Stephen Bear of Fairleigh Dickenson University. Bear recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Students as Protégés: Factors That Lead to Success,” co-authored by Gwen Jones. Below, Bear outlines the importance of this study:]
We have established, in our undergraduate curriculum, a practitioner-mentoring program for all business students in our sophomore-level organizational behavior course. The intent of the program is that, early in the students’ business education, they will begin to link and apply the theories of organizational behavior to actual workplace situations through regular interactions with their mentor throughout the semester. For many students the mentoring program is the highlight of the course, while for others the mentoring program is just another required course assignment. This range of reactions led us to wonder what factors encourage satisfaction with practitioner-student mentoring relationships? The level of satisfaction with a mentor is important because dissatisfaction can prompt a protégé to spend less time with a mentor and can reduce the quality of mentoring exchanges and the overall effectiveness of the mentoring relationship (Ortiz-Walters, Eddleston & Simone, 2010).
In our study we examined five independent variables that we believed could affect satisfaction: networking to find a mentor, trust in the mentor, self-disclosure to the mentor, role modelling by the mentor and mentoring program understanding. While each variable was positively related to mentoring relationship satisfaction, the most surprising finding of the study was the importance of student networking to find a mentor. Many students initially have difficulty finding a mentor, and we have debated whether faculty should step in to ensure that each student has a high quality mentor. Our study showed that when student’s network to find their own mentors this is positively associated with mentoring relationship satisfaction. Students who found their own mentors were more satisfied with their mentoring relationships than students who relied on the professor to match them with a mentor. We believe this finding is very relevant to faculty and to staff that establish mentoring programs as it suggests that whenever possible, student protégés not faculty should play the key role in the selection of their mentor. Finally the relationship between networking and mentoring relationship satisfaction is likely complex and should be explored further in future research. In our study, 77% of students were successful in finding their mentors through networking, and analysis indicated that there were no significant differences in finding a mentor, as based on age, gender, or race/ethnicity. An opportunity for future research is to determine whether socioeconomic class or a student’s first-generation college status would influence the ability to network to find a mentor, as these students might have fewer networking contacts.
Ortiz-Walters, R., Eddleston, K. A., & Simione, K. (2010). Satisfaction with mentoring
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