Much ado about mentoring

A proud and enduring initiative I introduced during my first term as ASMR President in 2009 was the ASMR Career Development Mentoring Program. I developed and implemented this scheme in response to alarming survey responses from one of our Professional Development events, which revealed that more than one third of delegates did not have a career development mentor. Since its inception, the Mentoring Program has assisted the career development of many of the country’s leading researchers and rising stars.

No doubt you’ve all had some experience with mentoring, or at least had the concept described to you. But few people really understand what constitutes good mentoring! Take some time to read over the guidelines for the ASMR Career Development Mentoring Program to find out a bit more (hyperlink at the end of this blog).

Most universities and medical research institutes run their own in-house mentoring programs. Such programs can be really helpful, and I encourage you to utilise this if your oranisation offers it. So why apply to the ASMR Mentoring Program as well?

First off the bat – it’s important to have several mentors in your professional life – several points of view. Having someone who can give you advice about navigating a successful path within the context of your organisation is essential. But so is having someone who can offer you a different perspective on how to sell yourself, position yourself and test yourself beyond your own workplace – beyond what you already know. Similarly, while it’s necessary to have a mentor from within your own field, it’s just as important to have a mentor from a different discipline. They can offer you insights and critical appraisal of your plans and proposals and provide (suggest) opportunities were in your blind spot.

ASMR has invited mentors to participate in the program based on track record and skills/traits such as effective communication, positive relationships developed in a professional manner, tact, patience and diplomacy, good organisational skills and high level of commitment and enthusiasm to the program. You will be amazed at the calibre of scientists who have put their hand up to be mentors in this Program … just for the joy of helping early-mid career researchers reach their career objectives.

Having a number of key mentors to help you articulate your desired career trajectory, and critically assess your plan for getting there, is essential in today’s competitive research environment. If you meet the criteria outlined below, do yourself a favour and apply to join the ASMR Career Development Mentor Program. You’ll wish you’d done it years ago! And guess what? It’s free.

Best wishes

Sarah Meachem, PhD
ASMR President


The ASMR Career Development Mentor Program is offered to current ASMR Members who are early-mid career (up to approximately 12 years post-doc).  To find out more, please  click here.

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