Community Acuity (28): learning what not to do as a supervisor

Community Acuity’ blog posts are from supervisors, to supervisors. They share the thoughts, experiences and reflection of the highs and the challenges of supervising doctoral students. This is an anonymous guest post from a colleague in Canada.

An off shot person extends a helping hand to a woman walking a trail path.
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

A job interview for a Professor position finally came almost exactly one year after I’d graduated. The key question they asked me at interview was: “What is your experience supervising doctoral students?”

One second after saying “None!”, I added, “But, I have tons of knowledge regarding what not to do as a supervisor!” I wanted to be a true mentor for my students. I wanted to go to bat for them whenever necessary. I wanted to remind them of their admirable qualities and why I believed they could succeed. What I wanted for them was everything that I didn’t have during my doctoral journey.

I’d promised myself that, if I ever got a job as a professor, I would never forget what I had gone through as a PhD candidate – which is basically impossible, when I look at my continuing bills for PTSD-related therapy.

The university offered me the job. It’s now been a year and I couldn’t be happier in my supervisory role. And whenever my students thank me for being there for them all the way, I secretly thank my own supervisor for inadvertently shaping me into the caring supervisor I try to be today.

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