Mentoring sessions are among the most valuable experiences that students and early-career professionals can have at scientific meetings. Research has shown that this sort of guidance and attention from a more senior colleague helps prepare mentees for the next steps in their careers. It also increases the retention of women and members of underrepresented minority populations in science, according to several studies, including this one from the Journal of Geoscience Education. Now these one-on-one sessions, filled with sharing of professional knowledge, expertise, and insights through mentor-mentee dialogue, can provide their benefits to those beyond the ranks of meeting attendees.
The American Geophysical Union, in collaboration with the Association for Women Geoscientists, the American Meteorological Society, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, has launched a virtual mentoring program, Mentoring365. This entirely virtual program offers mentees the valuable opportunity to connect with professionals from a variety of industries and backgrounds located across the world who may be otherwise inaccessible.
Guided Program of 3-Month Mentorships
Mentees have the opportunity to select a mentor from dozens of professional profiles that make it possible to identify a potential mentor with a similar area of study and interests. Once a mentor is selected, the pair takes part in a 3-month program that allows participants to set their own weekly meeting time and to begin their interactions at any time of the year.
During that period, Mentoring365 sends weekly emails including links to resources and tips about various topics to the mentor and mentee to assist with their discussions and guide them through the program. The content of the emails helps to establish and promote work toward the mentee’s goals by means of recommended discussion topics and resources. The program calls for just 30 minutes per week set aside to have meaningful conversations. By the end of the program, mentees and mentors typically have made a valuable connection.
One of our mentees, Maud, an undergraduate student participating from Ghana, commented, “I am very happy to be part of the mentoring program, and I have learned so much from my mentor. I have so much zeal now towards my graduate school application…all thanks to my mentor and this initiative. Having served as a good protégé and [been] honored with a good mentor like mine, I hope to mentor students like me sometime in the future and aid them in their career objectives. Thank you for this great opportunity given me to be part of this wonderful platform.”
For experienced professionals, Mentoring365 provides a simple platform to use to impart wisdom and support a new generation of Earth and space scientists. As explained by research scientist and Mentoring365 mentor Hazel Bain of the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, those times when “I have thrived in my career coincide with the times [when] I have had a good mentor to advise, support, and cheer on my behalf. I certainly don’t have the answer to every problem, but I’d like to be able to share what I have learned and the experiences I’ve had along the way, in the hope that [those] might help others.”
A Way to Give Back
Mentoring365 provides a simple avenue for scientists who are interested in giving back after having had the benefit of mentors themselves. Mentoring365 mentors range in career stage from postdoctoral researchers to senior scientists. A successful mentor dedicates 30 minutes to an hour each week to prepare for weekly meetings and is passionate about providing guidance and sharing knowledge and experiences with the mentee.
Since the program’s launch in September 2017, Mentoring365 has recruited approximately 300 mentors and mentees from 52 countries on six continents. Since then, our growing program has seen the addition of two new partner organizations that have helped to increase the scope of our mentors’ backgrounds and fields of study.
Although the program has reached these milestones, only a third of participants have found a successful match, mostly because of a limited number of mentors. Earth and space science professionals are encouraged to apply as mentors, and we invite potential mentees to apply and expand their global network today! With a growing mentor pool, we hope to meet the diversity of needs so that more successful Mentoring365 matches may be made.
—Kaylin Schupp (email: [email protected]), Winter 2018 Talent Pool Intern, AGU; Maggie Irwin, Fall 2017 Talent Pool Intern, AGU; Leslie Marasco, Student Programs Coordinator, AGU; and Pranoti M. Asher, Higher Education Manager, AGU