When I started my role as Executive Director of CARA in 2013 one of the first new programs I established was our mentorship program. As a research administrator, my mentor was pivotal to my career advancement and I wanted everyone to learn about and take advantage of mentorship.
Here are some of the things I gained from my mentorship partnership with Mary Jane Sayles:
· increased career confidence and engagement
· increased our professional independence
· reduced stress by easing my isolation in a highly specialized role (the only one in that role at my institution)
· a richer perspective on risk, ethics and the impact of administrative policies on researchers, based on my mentor’s clinical background and expertise
Specifically Mary Jane:
· provided me with access to workshops at her institution
· shared information on webinars to broaden my expertise
· advised me of learning opportunities such as conferences, articles and other readings
· widened my professional network by introducing me to researchers and senior administrators at another institution I would not normally have met
· assessed my abilities and helping me identify goals
· attended a webinar I co-lead and providing me with positive, constructive feedback
· urged her to think in a longer-term way about current aims and accomplishments
· critiqued my résumé
· provided a professional reference
· became a life long friend
Fully engaged in our busy, specialized roles, research administrators can easily miss opportunities to collaborate and grow through a mentorship program, but it is so beneficial it deserves our serious consideration. Not only is advantageous to individuals but also to institutions who reap the rewards mentorship can bring: more skills, more engagement, a broader perspective, and greater career satisfaction.
This blog is derived from the fourth edition of Steer Your Career: A Research Administrator's Manual to Mapping Success by Sarah Lampson and Katie Porter.