Mentoring is an important relationship that can transform talented students into elite performers. There has been limited empirical study on the psychology of the mentoring relationship. Most of the research focuses on mentee benefits, while the motivation and interests of the mentee have been relatively neglected. This study analyzed archival interview records (N = 128) from three cohorts of academically talented students who had participated in a faculty mentorship program for six semesters. A mixed-methods analysis, guided by a grounded theory approach, was used to quantitize the qualitative data. Two themes emerged from the qualitative analysis. First, 1 in 4 of the students did not feel mentored for one of three reasons. Some students were mentored by faculty outside the program. Other students did not see the need for a mentor. The rest of the unmentored students were either unable or unwilling to identify another faculty mentor. Second, selecting a profession was related to the quality of their mentor relationship. Students who reported career certainty were more likely to report having a high-quality mentoring relationship. Great mentors provided career support to the students by involving them in research, taking them to conferences, and connecting them to other faculty. After quantitatively coding the qualitative data, multinomial logistic regression was used to predict student ratings of the quality of the mentor relationship from career certainty. Students were more likely to report a better mentor relationship as career certainty increased from no career plan to developing a career plan. Student career needs may influence mentor relationships with faculty and should be given greater consideration in mentoring practice.
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