I’ve had the opportunity to mentor over 150 pre- and post-doctoral fellows and faculty colleagues, several of whom have mentored or advised many more. From the Mentor’s perspective, many keys to success with Mentees are well known. For example, define goals explicitly. Back up your mentoring commitments with long-term investments of time, required resources, regular meetings, and a research project of mutual interest. Provide emotional and psychological support; directly assist with career development. Train mentees in the anatomy and brevity of a manuscript. Optimal mentoring is often inter-disciplinary, with the primary mentor clearly designated. Mentor on publications, posters and presentations.
Regarding “Secrets” (symposium organizers assigned the title of this talk), my first Secret is to assess the passion, enthusiasm and initiative for the work as shown in the eyes, language and demeanor of the potential Mentee. Second, get to know what is in the applicant’s heart, as well as what is in the brain. Third, mentoring often doesn’t stop when the mentee leaves (e.g. mentors recommend their mentees for every possible award). The first phase of the mentoring job isn’t really over until publications first-authored by the Mentee are accepted, and the first job and research grant are secured. Fourth, supervised peer group mentoring can be very effective.
In addition, I’ll review ten “Lessons Learned” in mentoring research, publishing, applying for funds and finding work.