Geography and the Environment Doctoral Student Franklin Heitmuller
As a mentor in the Pre-Grad Internship program, my primary role was to facilitate honor-thesis research and documentation. As part of the responsibilities required, I frequently acted as liaison between the student and professor. For example, the professor had already published a report on the research topic, and the student was slightly confused on how to initiate original research. I helped the student outline a paper that would provide unique insight into the research problem. Additionally, I helped schedule field trips to the study site.
The undergraduate student also expressed interest in pursuing a graduate degree. This provided me with a secondary role, that of counselor. I first discussed, with the student, the process of honing in research interests without becoming too specific. Second, I encouraged the student to peruse through web pages of academic departments in search of particular programs and faculty that might cater to her intellectual interests. Finally, I discussed the design of a statement of purpose, and provided the student with my statement from my application to UT graduate school. Next, I provided the student with two successful research grants that I have written, in order to give her an idea of constructing a graduate research project.
My mentorship was enlightening and useful for future instructional opportunities. As a possible candidate for academic employment, working with students on research projects will be a fundamental responsibility. Surprisingly, I was reminded of the issues confronting graduating seniors and prospective graduate students. Those issues include the formulation of research problems, design of research projects, and execution of those projects. Additionally, I had to balance the time I could spend with the student with other responsibilities. Such lessons in time management must be learned to become a successful faculty member.