On November 22nd the Young Academy hosted a very successful ECR Lunch on mentoring.
The goal of this lunch was to exchange ideas and knowledge on what a mentor can do for you, how the UG can help and how to make a plan for a successful mentoring relationship.
To illustrate how a mentor can help you in the early stages of your research career as a postdoc or junior academic staff member, YAG members Marieke van Vugt and Sonja Pyott brought their mentors to share their experiences.
‘I didn’t think I needed a mentor at first, but now I think it is the best thing for my career,’ Marieke van Vugt explains. ‘A mentor is useful on so many levels.’
Finding a mentor
Finding and choosing a mentor can be a complex process. ‘There is a certain click you have to have with that person,’ Sonja says. Not many people are aware that the HR department of the UG can put you in contact with a potential mentor.
Dicky Tamminga and Liesbeth Volbeda from HR were kind enough to join our lunch and explain more about what mentoring is and how HR can help you in the process of finding a mentor.
Click here to view their presentation.
"A mentor is someone who will not judge or evaluate you. A mentor is someone you can be completely honest with without fear of consequences."
This is what can distinguish a relationship with a mentor versus that with your supervisor.
"A supervisor will judge your work and should guide you in your discipline-specific requirements. They act as your sponsor, bring you into the network, nominate your for prizes, etc. Don't be afraid to ask this of them, sometimes they are just too busy to think about it."
Making a plan
If you are planning on finding a mentor, it could be useful to identify your needs and goals. Questions you could be asking yourself are:
1. Career trajectory: where are you now and where do you want to go? What benchmarks are required to achieve your ideal position (e.g. degrees, grants, publications, classes taught, students supervised etc)?
2. Relative to your current situation and ideal career, define your strengths and weaknesses (e.g. time management, prioritizing, funding, communication, leadership…). In what areas do you need advice and encouragement?
3. Define the characteristics of your ideal mentor: position in the organisation (same institute/faculty or not?), male or female, specific expertise etc.
4. Using this analysis and wish list, what action are you going to take now?
If you would like help on finding a mentor you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What to discuss with your mentor
A mentor can advise you on many aspects of your work. Strategies such as role play can prepare you for various encounters such as handling students and supervisors. It is important to talk about expectations from both sides at the first meetings.
The GROW model can be used to organize and structure the meetings with your mentor. Find out more about it here
Do you want to know more about mentoring?
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