Ian Siderits on Mentoring from the Protege’s Perspective

In this episode of the Department 12 Podcast, Dr. Ben Butina talks with Ian Siderits, a Ph.D. candidate at North Carolina State University, about mentorship from the perspective of a mentee. Ian discusses his entry into the field of I-O psychology, influenced significantly by his mentors, starting with Dr. Tara Behrend during his undergraduate studies. He reflects on key mentoring principles, such as providing autonomy and the crucial role mentors play in both personal and career development. This episode offers insights into the dynamics of effective mentorship through Ian’s academic and professional experiences.


This transcript is AI-generated and may contain inaccuracies. Please do not quote myself or any of my guests based on this transcript.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: Welcome to the Department 12 podcast where we talk about everything I-O psych. I’m your host, Dr. Ben Butina. And joining me today is Ian Siderits. How are you today, Ian?

Ian Siderits: I am doing well, Ben. How are you?

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: I’m doing real well. So in you are a Ph.D. candidate at North Carolina State University, where you are also an instructor for human resource management and I-O psych and you do some adjuncting at other places as well. Right.

Ian Siderits: Yes, sir.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: A few episodes ago, I talked to another guest about mentoring, and we looked at it primarily from the mentors perspective. And what I thought we could talk about is looking at this from the proteges perspective or the mentees perspective, So maybe a little bit about what got you into EO psychology to begin with?

Ian Siderits: Sharon I think it’s a story that will tag right into one of my first real mentors. in junior year of undergrad, I was in Army ROTC that was going to be a psychologist deployed in an Army unit and was like, Yeah, that’s that’s what I want to do in the counseling side. And then I happened to take a class which, as you might guess, would be psychology. Dr. Tara Berrent. in that class immediately they talked about executive coaching, they talked about selection, like, okay, this is all really fascinating to me. And Tara said, you know, hey, we’ve got this lab. Her lab was the workplaces in virtual environments or wave lab. She said, you know, if we if anyone in here wants to be an undergraduate research assistant in the lab, come up at the end of class, we’ll talk. You can join the lab meetings, so why not? This seems really interesting. I did that. And then in that process, I joined the lab and they’re doing all this cool technology research. I got to be involved in some of it. And I went to her and I said, Hey, I’ve got this crazy idea. I would like to look at all of the PSYOP booklets, all of the PSYOP programs as far back as we can reach. And I want to make a note of every time we talk about anything technology related, and I want to then compare that to an entire history of technology timeline, which also doesn’t really exist yet. I’ll have to make it, and I’m going to see what our lag is. Right. What’s the lag between when technology comes up in the in the public sphere and when PSYOP staff talks about it? for anyone else is a crazy idea. Right? To say, oh, this is just this, you know, spunky undergrad student who popped in here was like, hey, I want to do this massive undertaking. Believe in me. And she did. And she was this force of empowerment and agency to say, that’s crazy. What do you need from me to make sure it happens? Do you need the booklets? You know what? I’ve got all of these old psyop booklets. You want to go through those? We did that whole process. Eventually, that became a presentation at PSYOP that won awards, then became an IOP paper. But that was all from her being willing to be that empowering. Or worse in my life. That said, you know, from that point on, yeah, it was the way to go. I love this. I applied to graduate programs, got into graduate programs, met a number of additional mentors through that process. But she was really one of the first that brought me into the field by just being that truly zealous support as I came up with these seemingly crazy ideas.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: You know, I like the phrase zealous support is a way of characterizing that. what principle of good mentoring do you think you drew from that experience?

Ian Siderits: Fundamentally for specifically for Tara, it was a lot of the autonomy, providing autonomy. But in a way that’s not just laissez faire, right? Do what you want to do. It was a kind of guided and supported autonomy of I trust that this is something that’s valuable. I see that it’s valuable to you, and I’m here to support you in the ways that you need to be supported. I like to use the term. Similarly, what you just mentioned, right, the zealous in law, their zealous advocacy, which is the lawyer’s kind of duty to represent a client zealously within the bounds of the that a lot in the most effective mentoring relationships I’ve been in, where those mentors have the zealous advocacy of me, they’re like, That’s crazy. I love that. Go do it. And what do you need from me to do it?

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: Well, it sounds like it had a pretty big influence on your life and steered

Ian Siderits: Incredible.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: you in the direction of IO. So we can thank Tara for that, you’ve had a series of mentors who was next up for you.

Ian Siderits: So from from Tara, who kind of got me into graduate school and still, whenever I get the chance, I love to speak with her. We just met at CI up again this year. From there I went into NC State and at NC State I had an advisor. I should also mention I call Tara, my undergraduate advisor. She wasn’t officially my advisor. She was just someone who took on that role, which is truly I have endless thanks for me into the field.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: you.

Ian Siderits: But then I had Dr. Mark Craig at NC State who similarly gave me that kind of empowerment and agency and autonomy, saying, you know, here’s some of my research you can join in. You’re just getting started. And then I did what I always do. And I found this other thing that was counterterrorism and it was research work on identifying risk factors for membership in perpetration in terrorist attacks or terrorist membership. And I told Bart, this thing’s really interesting to me. Can I do some research on this? He’s like, Absolutely, what do you need from me? And then I switched over and did that for Trust Research. And now, most recently in where my dissertation is with Nature Contact, all of which are fairly outside of of his area of you know, leadership and executive coaching. But he empowered me to do that. And so he became kind of the next empowering force. But then I would say the group of mentors, not just one that have been most influential most recently. In my process in graduate school, I happened to come across and kind of connect with people from the College of Management. And specifically it was a group within the management, innovation and entrepreneurship. College, college management, innovation and entrepreneurship and within that group were not kind of list them off. But there’s this group of people Dr. Paul Maulvi, Roger, Mayor Patrick Flynn, John Carr and Karen Jensen. All of whom kind of became this group of mentors that have worked together I’ll start with Paul O’Malley. I got to to for his class, the human resource management class compensation systems and work on some research and. In a little bit of a different way. His mentorship was in the form of being a role model. Getting to see someone be. The educator, the instructor, the force of positive and force for good on his students. He became a role model for me as I. This is what I want to be. I knew I wanted to do academia. I love teaching. I love the process of helping someone get to where they want to be and watching the way that he did that was this truly idealized influence of role model. You know, I wanted to be exactly what what he was able to do with those students. And so that became kind of the next force that shifted where I want to go. And in that process and this gets a little bit bungled and overlapped all of those people. Right, Paul, Roger, Patrick, Karen and John. Took on this pseudo mentorship role of me helping me in my career, helping me get to conferences, do research, published research, get involved in other opportunities, teach a class. So I’m teaching human resource management right now because they said, Hey, this could be important. If you would like to go into a business school, let’s figure out how to make this happen. And so that group of people. Really took me on and said, well, what is what is your goal? You want to teach? You’d like to teach in a business school. Let’s get you the opportunities you need to do that. And so watching them as well as them being there for me and really guiding me in that process, that’s the the career support side of mentorship really saying like, okay, well what do you want and how do we get you there? That has been beyond impactful for me.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: I can hear it in your voice as well. if a listener is hearing this and saying, well, gee, you know, that sounds great. I’d like a mentor or this council of mentors that you describe. how do I go about finding that?

Ian Siderits: It’s a fantastic

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: Just

Ian Siderits: question

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: a question.

Ian Siderits: and I will have some thoughts while also recognizing that there has been an immense amount of fantastic serendipity in my life

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: I.

Ian Siderits: happening to take the class

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: But.

Ian Siderits: with Tara, who is just this, you know, superstar. Then getting into a program where I’m working with with art, who is right along my wavelength and then finding the opportunity to get involved with these guys over in management who have taken on such an important role in my personal and career development. A lot of that, I will admit, was good luck and serendipity. If I were to give the practical recommendation. I think and this ties into what I see people doing wrong or not doing. If you don’t connect with people, if you don’t try to talk with people, if you don’t reach out and have conversations, you’re not going to find these people. And you may have to go through a few duds, right. You know, if you go back to the origin of the term mentor, it’s the the odyssey where Odysseus leaves his son, Telemachus, with a guardian called mentor. And mentor kind of sucked. He really wasn’t good until eventually, you know, Athena took over the visage of mentor and then was the wise the wise mentor who guided Telemachus. But that first mentor, like the actual mentor being really bad, you might go through a few. But you have to keep seeking out those new connections, reaching out to new people, interacting with people, finding opportunities to interact with an even greater breadth of people. You have to be able to interact with people to be able to find mentors. Sometimes they might find you, but really you have to be putting yourself out there.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: there’s a former athlete and sports commentator named Gabriel Reese and she says go first. everybody’s waiting for everybody else to go first. And you have this this tremendous advantage. it sounds like you’re a person with like a tremendous amount of initiative. you’re going to, try new things, even if they’re not what everybody else is doing. you’ve been fortunate to find mentors who support you in that and give you, the maximum amount of autonomy, but they also support you. And I think that word can carry a lot of different meanings. could you share with us some examples of what your mentors did to support you?

Ian Siderits: Absolutely as much as I may appear to have a ton of initiative and be very extroverted, my nature is only an introvert. I have simply come to understand that there are behaviors necessary and that I have to do this and that will be meaningful. So my my introverted self now, you know, and if you looked at me even before I met Tara, Tara really was a force of good in my life. Even in undergrad, I was not interactive. I did not put myself out there. I was not interacting with people. So I got lucky to meet that first person who really broadened my horizons. different mentors doing different things. The examples of Taryn. Mark. They focused on empowerment and agency. That kind of mentorship works very well. If you’re working with someone like me who I’ve got, you know, 18 different ideas and I just need some guidance on like, let’s narrow these down. How do you want to go about getting to that point? So I already had the idea. I had the thing I wanted to do. And so they’re being willing to say, go for it. We’re going to support. That was incredibly impactful. Then moving into kind of graduate school and teaching, when I got to interact with Dr. Paul Maulvi, Roger, Mayor Patrick Flynn, Karen Jansen. It shifted a little bit into role models, being able to see someone excel and walk the walk in academia in research for Patrick in analytics. Became a very motivational force. And it wasn’t necessarily an obvious that they do all these other things. But a good part of that relationship was being able to see an ideal. To see a role model. Then even a different kind. Dr. John Carr. Is one of the most. Motivational people is he’s the kind of person you talk with and you can’t leave a conversation with him without feeling a little bit more energized and a little bit better about yourself. that really deep encouragement was impactful in a very unique way. But then there’s also the pure career support. So some people I haven’t mentioned yet. Dr. Joseph Simmons, Rudolph, Dr. Gentlemen Chesney have given me career support. The reason when you introduced me, it was primary instructor and graduate student at NC State, but also occasionally an adjunct instructor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Meredith College. That was because there were these people who had worked with as either their T.A. or cohort member. I was Joe’s TA. He then went to Southeastern and said, Hey, I’ve got this guy who I think to teach ASAP. You need someone to teach. I was like, Well, sure, let’s reach out to Ian. And so giving me that very real and tangible career opportunity to teach, to gain more teaching experience. And same for Jenna, who was one of my cohort mates, who then went to Meredith and said, Hey, I got someone who might be able to teach a special topics class. And so that was a very career support oriented form of kind of keeping that relationship and that mentorship. And then one more. one more would be a real force of. What’s the best way to phrase it? A force of pushing. So Patrick Lynn and Karen Janssen have been a real force, especially currently, to say you need to be moving forward. Let’s get your dissertation proposal done by July so that you can be soft on the market in August. Let’s get you moving. What do you need to get moving? Hey, you know, you need to write this part better. You need to learn this analytics. Hey, can you get this back to me sooner? That process of continuous continuing to push me but in a. Caring way. that neither of those people would push me past where I was comfortable. I trust. And trust is immensely important here. I trust that they have my best interest in mind. And so when they push me, even if that can seem harsh or can seem like it’s going against what I might be thinking, the kind of way I want to go about things. I know that they are experienced. I know that they have my best interest in mind and I trust that. So they’re pushing me even when it can be harsh, even when it can be daunting. Is a kind of mentorship that I value and has really moved me forward in my career and has really pushed me to continue to do that, continue that positive momentum, continue moving in the right direction rather than becoming stagnant at one place.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.: Well, Ian, I genuinely appreciate you sharing these lessons there’s a lot that a mentor or a protege could get from from listening carefully to this. thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today.

Ian Siderits: Thank you so much as a fantastic.