I’ve paired over 100 mentees with mentors since starting at the Academy in 2016. It’s important to consider your options carefully, but sometimes searching through the Fellows Directory can feel overwhelming. Here are my thoughts on finding a mentor to develop your career.
Our mentoring programme gives you the opportunity to connect with someone you don’t currently have access to - they might be outside your institution, or potentially outside your field of research. With a mentor, you might talk about any number of different areas, from your research direction or career aspirations, to your work environment or life outside science. This means that many mentees prefer to choose a mentor with no connections to their university or research field, to ensure a confidential and unbiased relationship. Most importantly, you should nominate someone you think you will feel comfortable talking to.
“I really value having someone outside my research field to discuss ideas with.” Academy mentee, 2017
It can help to think about potential topics of conversation between you and your mentor. While looking for someone to nominate, you can then use these topics to search our Fellows Directory. Once logged in to the website with the password we send you, you will find more options to search the Directory via ‘Areas of Expertise’. These areas, such as balancing conflicting work commitments or creating a research niche, are selected by the mentors. By ticking two or three areas in your search, you should generate a shortlist of people who are keen to mentor researchers in your position.
“My mentor is very open and kind, extremely generous with both time and advice and most importantly encouraging in planning next steps in my career.” Academy mentee, 2016
If you are struggling to create a shortlist, or have a shortlist but aren’t sure who to nominate, you can always contact the Academy office and we can offer our perspective. It’s also useful to keep in mind that the first mentor we approach may not currently be available, so keep a note of your shortlist in case we need to approach someone else. Our role is to support you throughout the matching process and check in with both mentors and mentees after a few months. Over 90% of our mentees are happy with their relationship and feel they are well matched with their mentor!
“I was able to act as a sounding board at the time of a major career decision and point out some of the pros and cons.” Academy mentor, 2017
Always remember that this isn’t a one way relationship - our mentors also report that they enjoy connecting with mentees, and experience personal satisfaction in seeing their mentees develop and overcome problems.
“I also mentor an equivalent stage mentee in my own University. My AMS mentee is at another University and it is a much more stimulating experience for me, and less conflicting. I have enjoyed the AMS experience more than I thought - I have learnt about career development issues in a very different organisation, the field of research is more removed from my own research which is stimulating and I prefer the mentoring structure the AMS has put in place.” Academy mentor, 2017