A secondary mentor-such as practicum supervisors, research advisers or practicing psychologists-can provide you with extra support, advice and a different take on your career and academic path than your primary mentor (see "Where to find a mentor" for where to look).
Secondary mentorships may be particularly important for minority and women students, who are often underrepresented among faculty, says psychologist Helen D. Pratt, PhD, director of behavioral and developmental pediatrics at the Michigan State University/Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies pediatric program.
"Students may have a mentor who is good for their professional career but may not be able to understand who they are, where they come from and what their unique needs are," Pratt notes.
For example, clinical psychologist Jennifer Huwe, PsyD-whose primary mentor was her professor W. Brad Johnson, PhD-enlisted a female professor as a secondary mentor she occasionally met with over tea. She learned from that relationship how to define herself as a female psychologist, such as by figuring out how to balance a career and family.
Students may also seek out prominent psychologists to become their secondary mentor, such as someone whose research interests them. And don't forget about your peers too, experts say. Some programs formally arrange a cohort of classmates to meet, while other students form an informal peer network on their own to offer support to one another throughout their graduate program.
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