I recently completed the HHMI Mentoring course. Part of it meant we had to generate a mentoring philosophy. I wanted to share that here.
It is my firm belief that the mentoring relationship starts with good and open communication. Essential to that communication is context, hence, during our conversations, I will strive to understand where you are coming from, i.e. your background and experiences. That way, we can move forward together to figure out your scientific journey.
That journey involves many questions that I hope to address with you in our meetings; the scientific aspect of the “what” and the “how” of bench work, communicating the “why” in grants, papers, and speaking with the public, the “where” of what you want to do when you leave, and the “when” of timing while you navigate all of the above.
Scientifically, I would like to help you become as efficient as possible when going though your day and make sure you have clear and obtainable goals in mind. I want to lead you to think beyond the experiment to what would the paper look like or how would that grant look, then plan your day/week/month accordingly.
Communicatively, I would like to help you expand your voice for your research. How do you best describe your research in restricted time frames? How do you find your hook? Also, assuming that you will have myself and other lab mates read your scientific writing, I want to also help you find the best resources to write effectively.
Additionally, to get you to your next destination, planning is essential. Academia? Industry? Advocacy? Communication? Other (and there is so much in the other)? It is important to not only explore options to find out, but also develop your personal brand (what you want to project about your scientific merits, work ethic, personality, etc.) along the way so that when you figure out what that destination is, you will have the tools and background ready for the task. A topic of particular interest for me is helping people with networking because it is essential to everyone’s next step. I will encourage you to get connected with various scientific communities explore your opportunities.
When we meet, my aid will be in the form of honest feedback concerning whatever topic you need to discuss but I will also push in to new directions, hopefully for the sake of personal growth. That growth includes making sure that you have a good work-life balance (I’ve been married for 10 years and have two young children). In addition to having sound mentorship, I am a big believer that you must also maintain healthy relationships outside of the laboratory to maintain your sanity within it.