The Frederick Diversity Committee (FDC) Second Mentor Program is a facilitated mentoring program open to all fellows, trainees and early-career investigators at all levels who are engaged in or interested in personal and professional development including:
The program aims to connect interested scientists early in their careers with more senior investigators and administrators who have been identified as good mentors by the FDC. The second mentors include Laboratory Chiefs, Staff Scientists, Technology Transfer Specialists, Managing Consultants, Regulatory Specialists, Program Officers, Program Managers, Division Directors, University Professors, Industry Experts, Keynote Speakers and Award Winners in their areas of expertise. Moreover, they are willing to meet with you regularly and provide advice and assistance to enhance your productivity and plan for the next steps in your career. View a complete list of our current mentors and their availability for more information.
The FDC facilitates the mentoring program by:
It is up to you to initiate the introduction and foster the relationship. However, the FDC will provide numerous opportunities to help guide you along the process.
Finding the right mentor(s) is critical to a successful and enjoyable work experience. The best mentors are counselors, coaches and supporters all at the same time. They are experienced scientists who guide your research, and challenge you to develop your independence.
Although your PI/supervisor may guide experiments, offer advice and give feedback on your projects, you need additional support and counsel to develop new skills, gain different perspectives on your research and your transition into the next stage of your career.
Second mentors will help you define your personal and professional goals, and support you in your quest to achieve them. He or she will share resources, provide encouragement, and help you construct a scientific network. In addition to engaging in your personal and professional interests, your mentor is someone you trust to help you develop your career goals.
Before you reach out to mentors, it is best to evaluate what you are looking for in terms of career goals, assistance with your research project, advice with work-life balance, improving your productivity, exploring career options or any other areas that you need guidance with. This requires a fair amount of self-reflection. You can find example questions and additional tips you should consider before committing to a mentor at the associated links.
Once you have identified a potential second mentor, familiarize yourself with their current work, career path and their publications. Next, you should introduce yourself via email or face-to-face during one of the FDC networking events or seminars. If you send an email, make sure your message details your interests, reasons for seeking a second mentor, and what you hope to achieve through the mentoring relationship.
You may be asked to schedule a meeting or a phone call shortly following the initial introduction. Be prepared to discuss your background, your scientific and personal interests and your need for a second mentor. The “interview” is also a good time for you to learn about your potential mentor and determine if you can communicate effectively with each other. Ensure they are a good fit for you, both personally and professionally.
The more you speak with and learn about your potential mentor, the better you will be able to make an informed decision to build a mentoring partnership with him/her. It is unlikely that any single mentor will meet all your needs, so you will need to determine which considerations are the most important for you.
In order to get the most out of your mentoring partnership, make sure that you set a specific meeting frequency, create an agenda for each meeting, and hold up your end of the bargain. Take the initiative to schedule meetings and behave professionally and courteously. At each meeting, arrive on time and prepared for discussion, with relevant information or articles in hand.
Finally, recognize that sometimes even the best mentors will meet only a few of your needs. As you advance in your training, you may want to seek out additional mentors to fill the gaps. Alternate mentors may include other researchers in your field, or people in your network who have careers that interest you.
Nature Jobs: Ten Tips for Finding an Effective Mentor
The NIH Catalyst: The Synergistic Role of Secondary Mentoring