mentioned before the concept of unbreakable vow. It comes from Harry Potter: that when two wizards agree and the spell is cast, they are tied to each other and breaking the vow leads to death on the part of the person breaking the vow. Well, that seems like a bit much. But the idea is sound and relevant.
How so? When I agree to supervise a PhD student, I know I am making a career-long contract, if not lifetime. That the student will be looking to me for advice during and long after the PhD, and that I will be called upon to write letters of recommendation not just when they apply for post-docs and for their first jobs but long down the road.
How do I know this? Because even at my level as a senior scholar (yes, I know I am getting close to a pivotal age when "senior scholar" just sounds old to me), I keep going back to the well, to ask my adviser and other mentors for letters. As my next sabbatical is a bit more than a year away and is only partially funded, the search for additional funding has commenced, and with that, the need to ask for yet another round of favors. I cannot really return the favor for these folks... all I can do is pay it forward and also be nice to their students. And that I do.
So, thanks to the mensches of IR. I have been fortunate, and I don't take it for granted. Now, excuse me as I have a draft article to read, written by a former graduate student.