Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Around Campus | Career Development | July 22, 2015
“Being a mentor is a lifelong
learning process,” said Dr. Alex Martinez, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Pharmacology in Dr. Andrea
Giuffrida’s lab. “I think it is important to play a role in
the professional development and growth of young scientist at all levels from
high school to graduate school.”
In order to help prepare the next generation of graduate
students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs created Entering Mentoring, a
series led by Drs.
Linda McManus, Teresa
Evans, and Shamim Mustafa
that introduces effective strategies for successful mentoring.
“The value of this group is that it gets them to think about
what it takes to be an effective mentor and what makes a great mentor,” said
Dr. McManus, director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.
Examples of discussions include how to initiate a good
relationship, questions to ask your mentee, and barriers to effective
Dr. Bridget Ford, a postdoctoral researcher at the Research Imaging Institute said
that the course has been great to help her learn tips to improve mentor/mentee relationships.
“One thing I’ve learned not to do is hover over a student in
the lab,” Dr. Ford said. “You have to let them figure it out for themselves
Dr. Jesus Segovia, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of
Microbiology & Immunology, said that it’s critical to explain to the
mentee why they are there in the first place.
“You have to take a step back and explain why we are studying
that one protein, why we are using western blots,” Dr. Segovia said. “If the
student doesn’t see the bigger picture, it’s hard for them to understand the
importance of their work and the impact they are making.”
Dr. Evans spoke about the use of individual development
plans (IDP) and a mentor/mentee compact to help communicate goals and
“These tools allow you to work with your mentor in a
strategic way,” Dr. Evans said. “You should also not feel like you need to be
their only mentor, a really important tool of being a good mentor is realizing
when you are not the expert and finding someone else to help fill that role.”
Dr. Mustafa, the course director of the program, explained
that especially in the beginning of a new relationship, it’s important to go
over roles and expectations.
“It’s also really important to give the mentee ownership
from the start like letting them discuss the outline of the project at the next
meeting,” she said. “This helps build confidence.”
Dr. McManus said that because the series is only a four-week
program, it’s not a comprehensive overview of mentoring.
“The workshop really
provides a venue for people to think about mentoring,” Dr. McManus said.
“Mentoring is an experience and each mentor-mentee relationship is different so
what we can do is prepare trainees with the skills to help that relationship be
as successful as possible.”
To see the full schedule of when Entering Mentoring is
offered, click here.
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