Mentors are critical in our professional development. They help us at every stage of our careers by building networks inside and outside our collaborations, achieving our research goals and shaping us as early-career scientists and future science leaders. There is no such thing as universally perfect mentoring, but a good understanding of our goals can help in overcoming challenges and creating a strong mentor-mentee relationship,bringing mutual benefit. Mentorship programs directly address Goal 10 of the Lindau Guidelines 2020
Mosaic of mentors
In addition to primary research mentors, establishing connections outside our group or field can be beneficial for career and personal growth. These relations can concentrate on extending our networks and collaborations, exploring career strategies, discussing life-work balance, and many more.
Moreover, we also can engage into peer-to-peer and student mentoring. As early-career scientists, we are uniquely equipped to provide valuable insights towards future steps, while at the same time having the challenges of being a student still fresh in our mind. In addition, peers can allow for the exchanging of ideas and thoughts that people may feel uncomfortable discussing with their supervisors. A supportive peer-network, such as that found in an ECS association provides many of these benefits.
We can make use of the perspective that comes with being a mentor and mentee within the same time frame to help us develop our mentoring skills in more conscious and actionable ways.
A great resource on choosing a mentor and best practices for a beneficial mentor-mentee relationship can be found in this Mentorship guide created by the USA National Postdoc Association. While created by an organization supporting primarily postdoctoral researchers, the guide is a useful source of information for all early-career scientists.
Mentoring and ECS Associations
ECS associations can serve as a hub for creating mentorship programs. Good guides for faculty mentoring including tips on how to establish a mentoring program at your institution can be found here, here, or here. They include tips on every step of creating the mentorship program, namely:
Understanding the needs of community
Structure of the program