Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Value of Mentorship Part 1 - 004

Who do you consider to be your mentor? Your supervisor? A helpful Post-Doc? Your parents? The key to academic and career success can often be to find the right mentors early on.

Whether formed organically, intentionally sought after or implemented in a mandatory fashion; there is much to be gained from a good mentoring relationship. A quick qoogle search on 'Mentorship in Academia' gives some 14 million results, interestingly many of the top hits specifically aimed at women. Invited speakers at past Young Women of Influence events have all commented on the importance of strong mentors in their own career success. In fact one piece of advice which stands out came from Evelyn Ackah, who told her own boss "Hello Liz, I want your job" and began a series of mentoring conversations which eventually lead to her running her own law firm.

While most graduate students have a primary mentor in the role of their supervisor, the development of broader mentoring networks is becoming increasingly necessary for success. In fact applications for provincial support in Alberta now require the development of a Mentorship Committee consisting of three or more members (independent from your typical advisory committee). One member of which is specifically intended to be a career mentor. Perhaps this trend is reflective of the increasing numbers of graduate trainees, no longer do Tenured professors take on graduate student protoge's who will replace them one day. Increasing numbers of graduates and shockingly low hiring into tenure track positions, makes it clear than effective career mentorship, early on, is needed to ensure you have a career after graduation.

That being said, seeking out mentors outside your immediate laboratory or research group environment can be intimidating, confusing or forgotten about. As such I'll be focusing the next couple of posts on my own efforts to develop a better mentorship network. My first step? Tonight I'll be attending a Young Women Of Influence Evening Series featuring former biotech CEO and current professional mentor Cynthia Roney, who will talk about The Power Networking and Mentorship.

Have you begun to develop a mentorship network? How have mentors played important roles in your own academic or career success?

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