Name: Dr Ai Lyn Tan
Institution: University of Leeds
Connection to the Academy: Mentee
“I found the Mentoring programme offered by the Academy an invaluable experience; I was supported throughout the whole process right from the beginning when selecting a mentor. The matching process was very effective; I certainly benefitted from the mentorship, and would highly recommend the programme to others.”
When I began the process of finding a mentor, I did not know any of the Fellows on the list particularly well, so the Academy team stepped in and helped significantly to calmly narrow the list down to the most suitable mentors for my objectives.
My personal criteria included a mentor who was ideally in the same specialty so they understand the topic area relevant to my future career (though this is not always necessary for others), and that they should also be within a relatively easy commute as I prefer to meet my mentor face-to-face. With a few names from the Academy, I discussed the list with some of my informal mentors, and eventually decided on one.
My match through the Academy programme was a good one; I got on well with my mentor which is very important. I was also pleased to be invited to attend one of the Academy’s Mentoring Skills workshops - it’s very useful for both mentees and mentors to be trained like this, as this type of developmental mentorship is not always understood by all. The workshop provides a good introduction to the mentoring process, and the benefits of being mentored.
Mentorship through the programme has helped me think more effectively about my choices, especially when I was at different crossroads. It made me realise that some matters that I deemed important as a factor in making my choices were not actually that crucial, and vice versa. My Academy mentor has helped me focus on my agenda, which in turn helped with my confidence in exploring different options. Finally, it has helped me learn how to achieve my goals in a more focussed manner by learning different and new ways of approaching complex situations.
I would definitely recommend the programme, and would recommend starting sooner rather than later. I only acted on selecting a formal mentor via the Academy during the third year of my five year fellowship, but that was because I had only just started thinking about what I would like to do post-fellowship.
The Academy programme is unique because there is a lot of guidance about the mentoring relationship itself. I felt the matching or pairing process was an invaluable and effective service. The Academy also has a large ‘database’ of very experienced Fellows, making it more feasible to select a mentor.