Career and Professional Development Peer Mentoring Group (CPD PMG):  Reflecting on this Year and Looking Forward

Phew! It is June already.  Where has the time gone?

In the NORDP Career and Professional Development Peer Mentoring Group (CPD PMG), we began the year by coming together, introducing ourselves, and determining what we’d like to do by collecting jam board entries and prioritizing them using a survey. After discussing the survey, we decided to begin by sharing about ourselves — how we got into Research Development (RD), how our careers have progressed, and the structure of our offices.  We moved on to reviewing fireside chats for lessons that we could apply to our careers and professional development, learning from presenters: Kelly Rose, Daniel Arriaga, David Widmer, Peg Atkisson, Rebekah Hersch, Samar Sengupta, Mark Milutinovich, Karen Fletcher, and Susan Carter.

What did we learn from our NORDP colleagues sharing their journeys?

Networking and connecting with others: Networking is important!

  • Get to know people, even if you are an introvert, e.g., set a goal to meet and learn about a targeted number of people at a conference.
  • Reach out to colleagues at your organization and get involved with NORDP. Getting involved with NORDP can simultaneously help you get to know others and what they are doing to further the goals of their organizations, while providing thoughts for how what you learn can be applied at your own organization.
  • Getting to know your faculty and building trust with them will benefit your work.

Professional Development: Believe in yourself — “own your own value”! 

  • Make professional development a priority. Identify a niche area that can pay off for your own growth. You may find that what you learn and how you grow not only allows for your own advancement, but for that of the RD profession as well.
  • Upskilling to learn additional skills is important.  
  • Doing a skills assessment can help identify your strengths and areas where you could grow. See NORDP Mentoring’s self-assessment tool.
  • Mentoring, both providing and receiving, is an important piece of career and professional development. Get mentoring from a number of people (see NORDP Mentoring’s MESHH Network tool for assistance in identifying a mentoring network).
  • Look at new opportunities as learning experiences.

Career Development: Remain open to change!

  • Sometimes serendipity helps us land in a new position; other times a career move is purposeful and may arise out of doing a skills assessment. Putting in the [sometimes hard] work, persevering, and engaging with others at your organization and within NORDP can lay the foundation for future opportunities.  
  • Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and ask for informational interviews.
  • If a position meets your interests/desires, be willing to try for it.

Our professional development discussion led to sharing thoughts on potential connections to other relevant professional organizations. Examples included the International Network for the Science of Team Science (many NORDP members subscribe to the INSciTS listserv) and Intereach — a community of practice whose stated purpose is “to articulate and promote the need for a dedicated career path around interdisciplinary research expertise, and to improve practitioners’ tools, best practices, success metrics, and career trajectories.”

If Intereach sounds interesting, note that Christine Hendren, Intereach co-Chair, presented to the Collaboration and Team Science PMG on May 17, 2022. Dr. Hendren founded Intereach in 2015 “to connect research professionals with expertise in synthesizing and communicating integrated science across disciplinary and organizational boundaries to effectively address wicked problems.” The CPD PMG hopes to learn how RD professionals can contribute to solving issues as one of the many diverse perspectives needed to tackle challenges, potential professional development opportunities within Intereach, and related careers that utilize RD skills. A transcript of this conversation can be found here.

Where will the 2022 NORDP Conference and the rest of the year take us?

The time we’ve spent together talking about goals and strategies on professional development prepared us well for the annual NORDP Conference, which provides a meaningful occasion to gather new ideas to implement on the job, to connect and reconnect with colleagues, to further develop professional networks, and to find new ways to become actively involved with NORDP. 

For the remainder of the year, we plan to focus on discussions that will help position us for the next career move with topics such as articulating RD professional impact, obtaining management experience without formal direct reports, or engaging in RD research and publications. We will push ourselves out of our comfort zones and help increase marketability for the next career opportunity!

Compiled by Christine Erlien (Duke University School of Medicine Office of Research), Deborah Lundin (East Carolina University Office of Research Administration), and Danielle Matsushima (Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons).

Transitioning from Mentee to Mentor

A mentoring reflection from Melissa Li, a Research Manager at the University of Michigan.

Melissa Li

As the 2021 – 2022 NORDP Mentoring Program is coming to the end, I have officially been a mentor for one year at NORDP. Looking back at my journey of becoming a mentor, I’d like to share a few reflections with the NORDP community.

Why be a mentor?

Being a mentor requires time, energy and commitment. What motivates mentors to be willing to make investments in others? Generally speaking, mentors are at a career stage where they have been in a mentoring relationship as mentees formally or informally. They have benefited in their career growth from others’ time and investment. One of mentoring’s positive impacts is to inspire former mentees to help others who may be in similar situations or face similar challenges by  paying it forward. Also, being an effective mentor requires a skill set that is gained through training, practice and constant refinement. Mentors, particularly new mentors, have unique opportunities to hone their skills that may not be developed in a regular work environment. Another benefit of being a mentor is that mentors get to know more people and expand their own networks. Last but not least, learning is not one-way. Everyone has strengths and unique experiences. Mentors can learn new perspectives, new knowledge and new tools from their mentees. 

When to be a mentor?

For those who are considering becoming a mentor, one of the biggest questions probably is “Am I ready?” This was the question that I asked myself before I decided to become a mentor. There are a few factors that can be taken into account. The first is experience. Mentors often share insights based on empirical evidence which requires first-hand experience. So mentors usually have been in their fields for some years. However, the experience is not exclusively about professional experience; experience gained in one’s personal life is often transformable in professional contexts. A mentor’s experience is viewed as a holistic whole. Second, a mentor comes with a genuine willingness to engage in the mentoring relationship. To me, becoming a mentor was a calling. The idea of being able to help others gives me joy. There are at least two-fold meanings of willingness. One is about being willing to share knowledge and experience; and the other is about being willing to discuss one’s own lessons learned, including success as well as regrets and mistakes. Then, I asked myself, “Am I qualified to be a mentor?” This is about the next factor – confidence, which is the certainty one feels about the mentor role. A great way to seek validation is to ask those who you trust. For example, I asked two of my mentors, both of whom are senior leaders in my institution. Both fully supported my decision of becoming a NORDP mentor. Hearing them say “Melissa, you’re ready” gave me reassurance and confidence. Another important factor is commitment. As I mentioned earlier, mentoring requires time and energy. One should evaluate their bandwidth and make sure promised time is honored consistently. If you just changed your job recently or you are starting a major renovation project in your newly purchased house, it’s probably a good idea to delay starting the mentor role.

How to be a supportive mentor?

In my experience, the most fundamental and universal skill is active listening. Active listening enables us to gather information and recognize others’ perspectives and feelings. Remember, listening is to understand, not necessarily to respond. Via effective listening, mentors understand mentees’ questions, needs, challenges and so on. Demonstrating compassion without being judgmental helps develop trust in the mentoring relationship, so that mentees feel comfortable sharing “difficult things”. By effective listening, mentors also can understand what mentees want, including career goals and expectations during the committed mentoring period. Mentees usually are the drivers of the mentoring relationship. The job of the mentor is to align mentoring efforts to help mentees achieve their goals. 

Another way to develop trust and create a safe space is to show vulnerability, which takes courage. This also circles back to the willingness that I mentioned earlier. Being willing to share not only successes but also “detours” along our career journeys will make mentees’ experiences richer so that they become conscious to avoid similar mistakes and they fully trust mentors by telling their struggles. In some cases, mentors don’t know some subject matters, simply acknowledging not knowing the answers is completely fine and normal. Using myself as an example, I asked one of my mentors “What do I do if I can’t answer my mentee’s questions?” My mentor said “You can just say ‘I don’t know.’” I have said “I don’t know” from time to time while trying to find answers by connecting them with others who are subject matter experts.

In addition, it takes a bit of project management skills for logistics. If I promise to follow up with my mentees on resources/information, I either do it right after the meeting or write a reminder on my calendar so that I don’t forget. Also, I take notes during meetings and review the notes 5 – 10 minutes before each meeting to be prepared.

Becoming  a mentor provides a rich and rewarding learning experience!  There are numerous mentor training opportunities and I have benefited through two programs. First, I participated in NORDP’s mentor training program organized by the Mentoring Committee. During the training, I learned that the facilitators were all trained by CIMER, the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research. I was inspired by my CIMER-trained peers and have since become a trained CIMER facilitator too. The training prepared me well as a mentor. I know this is just the beginning of my mentor journey. I look forward to many years ahead being a mentor. 

2022 NORDP Mentoring Days Celebration

Alt text: Image of six humans interacting and supporting each other, juxtaposed with large block letters spelling MENTORING. Image Source: Adobe stock #296042991.

Registration is now live!

The NORDP Mentoring Committee presents the 2022 Celebrating Mentoring Days on Wednesday, June 29 and Thursday, June 30. All NORDP members are invited to attend! 

What: 2022 Celebrating Mentoring Days to kick off the NORDP mentoring activities!

When: Wednesday, June 29, 1pm – 3:15pm EDT and Thursday, June 30, 12:30pm – 3:15pm EDT. Registration will open soon!

Who: NORDP members who are excited about Mentoring

Dr. Mica Estrada, UCSF

We have the great pleasure of having Dr. Mica Estrada back to talk about strategies for cultivating kind and inclusive mentoring relationships. Dr. Estrada is the Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Nursing. We will hold a watch party of her 2022 NORDP Conference Plenary on “Why Kindness Is Important When Mentoring in an Interconnected World”. Dr. Estrada will then join us in a follow-up discussion and Q&A as we dig deeper into how to incorporate strategies for inclusive and kind mentoring in our relationships.

We will kick off with a welcome and cohort activities involving pair orientation for participants in the 2022 – 2023 Mentoring Program. We aim to collectively learn from former, current, and aspiring mentees and mentors in the popular McHuddle format that includes multiple engaging activities and discussions on mentoring. For those looking to get more involved with the Mentoring Program, information will be presented on Peer Mentoring Groups or PMGs. We currently have seven PMGs with various thematic focuses which are open to new members all year. You can easily sign up using the Wisdom Share platform by a simple click! 

We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Celebrating Mentoring Days!

All In On Mentoring

A mentoring reflection from Marie Teemant, Associate, Research Development Services, Research, Innovation & Impact (RII), University of Arizona.

Marie Teemant

I have thought a lot about mentorship in the last few years. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the University of Arizona. My personal experience and my observations of others’ in this realm appears to be uneven, to say the least. I hear from various colleagues of their own levels of satisfaction or want in terms of the levels of support, engagement, openness, and feedback they receive from their mentors (often an advisor or committee member). Of course, this type of mentorship also appears to serve as an often-singular pipeline of student to academic.

My experience as a new research development professional has significantly opened my eyes to the amount of discovery that can be found within a well-considered and planned mentorship program. I am quite new to this field, having found this path as a graduate fellow in my department at the University of Arizona, assisting in the communications of development opportunities, before moving into my current full-time position supporting faculty in external Honors & Awards. The structure within my department has been open in terms of sharing experiences to support one another as we build campus networks and improve our methods of faculty support. If the learning curve is steep stepping into a research development role, I have always felt like those ahead of me have built in markers and hand holds to follow while working through this learning. 

It has been the NORDP mentorship program, however, that has helped me identify growth areas, connected me with extensive resources, assisted in the beginnings of my research development network, and has anchored me in my own professional development. Recently, my NORDP mentor, Samarpita Sengupta, invited and encouraged me to seriously consider being a mentor myself next year. On the face of it, my limited experience and green-ness made me immediately enumerate what I lack in terms of my ability to help someone else. However, as I discussed the idea with Samar and thought about how mentorship has nurtured me over the last year, I have come around to a new way of thinking about what someone as new as myself might offer. 

To that end, I would like to elaborate on three key ways I have benefited from my participation in the mentorship program: building skills with my mentor, centering professional development in my career life, and identifying gaps in my knowledge.

Building Skills with my Mentor

My art history professors never explained how hydrophobic cells interact with various medications, the terms of details of the gut microbiome, or novel methods for measuring antibodies. Like many other research development professionals, my academic career does not always align with the disciplines of faculty I support on nominations or proposals. On particularly challenging nominations, the organization may ask for a robust explanation of the science, which, at times, I found myself at a loss for how to best direct and support the faculty. While co-workers with such expertise were always willing to look over the technical jargon and support the faculty as well, I looked to my mentor to learn to read scientific literature more competently and improve my editing skills on this front.

Samar was more than willing to look over an anonymized, past nomination with me. She broke down the process of understanding enough to get past the area-specific language and ask questions that would improve the proposal. She introduced me to the structure and types of writings within medical sciences, for one, which could help me gain a quick grasp on some of the basics to make the topics less intimidating. Most importantly, she was a person I could turn to without judgement and with the background knowledge to help me see what I could not before. 

Since this early conversation, these skills have provided me with confidence to move forward advising on narratives, proposals, and other materials that may require deeper knowledge in areas outside my training background.

Centering Professional Development in my Career Life

Even with the mentorship program, it is easy for my personal growth to take a back seat to the myriad of deadlines, last-minute requests, and meetings that occur in my day-to-day. I will confess to not always being the most diligent mentee in making consistent times for robust professional development activities, but simply having monthly check-ins with my mentor keeps what I want in my professional life in the forefront (… okay, maybe middle front, some weeks). 

Months where I have more time to dedicate to specific activities and bring the results back to my mentor have often been the ones with the most growth attached to them. Afterall, a mentor cannot give to you what you have not prepared to receive. However, even during the months when I had a smaller capacity for my own professional development, the regular meetings have allowed me to check in with myself and not let a significant amount of time pass between revisiting my own goals for building my knowledge and career.

Identifying Knowledge Gaps

There’s a challenging time in the early stages of learning that I consider the “you don’t know what you don’t know” phase. Whether it’s terminology, processes, systems, or organizations, there is plenty to learn and sometimes the only real barrier is not knowing the questions to ask or resources to seek out.

In addition to having a built-in guide to the world of research development in my mentor, the structured program itself has provided a roadmap to think through where I am, where I’m headed, and where I see myself long term. The à la carte approach to these materials has been helpful in the early stages to familiarize myself with the overall field. I have made a more concerted effort as I approached and passed my first anniversary as a research development professional to take time with these workshops and reflect on where I have come from as well as where I would like to go. 

Going all in

I look forward to the upcoming year as part of the mentorship program. As I have considered the invitation to step into the role as a mentor, I reflect on the real basis and need for mentorship. While this can include deep skills and knowledge of the profession, some of the best mentorship I have received is simply having someone whose expertise, involvement, network, viewpoint, and pathway has been different from mine. We are also in a unique position as professionals where our numbers are consistently and robustly growing, creating a need for our peer mentorship in the process. 

So next year I look forward to expanding my participation in the mentorship program as both mentor and mentee. On the one hand, I hope to continue inscribing my path on my RD roadmap, while also helping someone else consider theirs.

The 2022-23 NORDP Mentoring Program is now open for applications! Current users of Wisdom Share have the ability to change their profile to make themselves available for being a mentor, mentee or both. For first time users, a registration step is required. We highly encourage everyone to sign up to be a mentor! Application period closes by May 16th.

NORDP Mentoring Reflection: Erica Severan-Webb and Erin Meyer

As the 2021-22 Mentoring year draws to a close, the mentoring committee caught up with another dyad pair. Erica Severan-Webb, who serves as the Director of Diversity Programs and Initiatives within the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center in New Orleans mentored Erin Meyer, who serves the University of Utah College of Nursing as a Research Associate. 

Bios:

Erica Severan-Webb is an experienced leader in both the education and non-profit sectors who has conceptualized, designed, and implemented inclusive programming and initiatives to achieve institutional transformation.  She co-authored and served as Co-PI on XULA STRIDES, a NSF ADVANCE grant designed to increase retention of African American STEM faculty at an HBCU.  Her passion for organizational diversity, equity, and accessibility is demonstrated through her work with colleagues, students, and community partners and her continuous engagement and empowerment of individuals and organizations in transformative change models.   

Erin Meyer

Erin Meyer earned a PhD in pharmacology from Georgetown University. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She completed a six year postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience and genetics at the University of Utah and she was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. She is currently a Research Administrator at the University of Utah, College of Nursing. Erin is also a yoga therapist and she is interested in DEIA and disability studies. 

What influenced you to apply to be a mentor and a mentee for the 2020-21 NORDP Mentoring Program?

Erica: I have had incredible mentors who have encouraged my development and challenged my thinking and leadership practice.  My mentoring relationships have contributed to my career progression and have made me a better RD professional and leader.  I was excited to serve as a mentor to be able to provide that opportunity for a colleague.  

Erin: I have had many great mentors in the past. When I started this program, it had been a long time since I worked with a mentor. I was at a place in my career where I wanted a mentor and I was at a loss about where to find one. I felt stuck without options to advance my career or to change career paths, and I wanted some advice. I am glad NORDP has a program.

What was your favorite part about your relationship? 

Erica: I am always so passionate about learning about individuals and organizations through mentoring relationships.  Erin was such an amazing colleague to discuss how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) principles and RD intersect, as well as how institutions and professionals can leverage both their expertise and skillsets as RD professionals to advocate for a more inclusive culture within their institution as well as more broadly throughout academia.   

Erin: I specifically requested a mentor from a diverse community. I am from a diverse community, and I have never had a mentor who understood DEI challenges in RD, and in the broader context, DEI challenges in academia. I learned so much from my mentor in these areas. I am now empowered to make a difference in DEI, no matter where I am working.

How has participation in the Mentoring Program helped broaden your horizons about Research Development in general and/or affected your daily work in particular? 

Erica: Erin and I had great conversations and discussions about how DEI and RD intersect.  I always look forward to our chats and treat our discussions as a priority where I disconnect and am fully engaged to provide substantive feedback and strategies that have been beneficial to me in my own development.

Erin: I always look forward to my calls with Erica. I learned from Erica the differences in RD career trajectories and career limitations among large public academic institutions, smaller private academic institutions, and companies in the private sector. In addition, Erica took the time to reach out to someone who knows people at my current institution and through this contact, I have expanded my network. I now have some plans of how to move my career forward. I do not want my relationship with Erica to end.

What surprised you about being a mentor or a mentee?  

Erica: While not surprised, I am always humbled by the incredible talent and expertise that exists within the NORDP community.  So many colleagues sustain institutional initiatives and programming that are innovative while also maintaining service commitments within their institutions and other national organizations.  Erin is no exception as she has been a DEI champion on her campus – this is truly inspiring to my own work and practice.  

Erin: I was not surprised that I learned a lot about RD and DEI. I knew that I was lacking in my knowledge in how these areas intersect. I was surprised to learn that feeling stuck in my career has a lot to do with where I work—the type of institution. I learned from Erica how to navigate this institution.

Any words of wisdom or encouragement for those wanting to apply next year? Any other thoughts you would like to share?  

Erica: Participation in the program always serves to motivate me to continue to look for opportunities to cultivate meaningful mentoring relationships where I can serve as a resource to mentees and foster support as they navigate through specific projects or career transitions points. 

Erin: I went for a long time without a mentor. I will never do that again. I realize how important it is to have a mentor, so I plan to always have at least one. I am also willing to be a mentor.

Erica: Please sign up to be a mentor for the NORDP mentoring program! It is phenomenal in its ability to foster mentoring relationships that facilitate incredible learning opportunities for both mentees and mentors.     

The 2022-23 NORDP Mentoring Program is now open for applications! Current users of Wisdom Share have the ability to change their profile to make themselves available for being a mentor, mentee or both. For first time users, a registration step is required. We highly encourage everyone to sign up to be a mentor! Application period closes by May 16th.

Compiled by Samarpita Sengupta, Mentoring Committee

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Takeaways from the 2022 International Mentoring Association Conference: The Transformational Power of Mentoring

In February, four NORDP members – Jan Abramson, Rachel Goff-Albritton, Kathy Partlow, and David Widmer – attended the International Mentoring Association conference in Gainesville, Florida. The conference occurs every other year and includes a wide spectrum of mentoring enthusiasts across education, business, and other sectors. Since 1987, the International Mentoring Association has been the premier source for best practice solutions and support of mentoring professionals. For this blog post, we feature takeaways from one of the many sessions that were part of the conference. 

Session: The Art and Science of Mentoring: Testimonies from Research and Practice

Takeaways by: Kathy Partlow

Text

Description automatically generated

Picture a conference session with a long table of panelists packed in elbow-to-elbow at the front of the room. You might be thinking the panel organizers were overzealous in their invitations; however, I soon discovered that the table was a visual representation of the impact of mentoring. Dr. Frances (Fran) Kochan, a well-known education leadership scholar and master mentor, was surrounded by a few select mentees that she had impacted throughout her academic career. Her mentees had decided to honor her with a festschrift – a German word for a commemorative of someone who is still living – to pay tribute to her influence and contribution to the field. Each mentee wrote about how Fran’s mentorship helped them navigate skill development, career progression, or work/life integration topics as examples of putting mentoring theory into practice within a chapter of The Art and Science of Mentoring: A Festschrift in Honor of Dr. Frances Kochan. Each shared powerful and moving testimonials on what they learned from Fran about mentoring and how one person “can cross our paths and change us forever.” As Fran – and really the entire audience – worked to control emotions throughout the testimonials, Fran closed the session by encouraging each of us to always be a mentor and a mentee. I found the session inspiring. I want to be like Fran and what I learned from this session is that having that kind of impact is possible for each of us. 

Afterwards, as we NORDies gathered and talked about that session, one of the clearest session messages was how mentoring leads to growth and transformation. The impact of mentoring begins reciprocally: the mentee and mentor both benefit. Then, the impact of that mentoring grows exponentially: each mentee goes on to influence multiple others and so on. Importantly, the impact of mentoring happens through small acts: being kind and supportive to others, actively listening, picking up a phone, or returning an email. The impact of mentoring also happens through big acts: being a role model, collaborating together, giving psychological and emotional support, or providing sponsorship. 

Overall, the impact of mentoring is transformational for self and others. Registration opens soon for the next cohort of the NORDP Mentoring Program. What will your impact be as a mentee? As a mentor? Who will be at your table? What legacy do you want to leave?

Spotlight on Certified Facilitators

Mentoring is a skill that becomes part of us as we grow in our careers. For some, it comes easily, but for everyone, it is a skill that can be taught, nurtured and blossomed with time and space. To help with this, the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) and the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) launched the Mentor training workshops. CIMER not only trains mentors, but also trains and certifies facilitators who can then facilitate the mentor training workshops and help shepherd a chain reaction to promote good mentoring practices far and wide. 

“The CIMER certification is another way to build capacity across the research enterprise. This training opportunity builds relationships and understanding of RD with our research leaders. Our faculty face unique challenges and mentoring offers solutions for a variety of situations. I also found the evidence base and evaluation model of CIMER to be both educational and innovative. We integrated some of the design concepts into our GRO Academy, a research leadership development program,” says Jeff Agnoli, from the Ohio State University. 

The CIMER-trained facilitators have to conduct a certain number of hours of training with a specific number of attendees to be identified by CIMER as a Certified Facilitator. Today, we shine a spotlight on some of these certified facilitators among our NORDP colleagues. Jeff is one of them!

Paula Carney, of Loyola University Chicago, who is one of the driving forces behind the Mentor training sessions offered by NORDP, has also connected NORDP to the development of faculty and trainees as researchers. She states that “NORDP is increasingly involved in national and international mentoring conversations. My involvement in these initiatives also lets me bring new ideas and opportunities back to NORDP, helping enrich our mentoring program activities.”

Etta Ward, of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, found her calling in mentoring. She credits becoming a Certified Facilitator with “what I have always called my purpose and calling to becoming an integral part of my professional identity and has opened a world of opportunities across sectors.”

CIMER has recently invited Paula, Etta, Jan Abramson, Kathryn Partlow and Tabitha Finch to support their mentor training sessions nationally. These training sessions are attended by researchers, trainees, faculty, research development professionals and administrators across universities. Tabitha feels the Certification gives her an “added level of confidence when I lead mentoring training, because I know my skills and experience have been vetted by the CIMER team.”

“When you become a Certified Facilitator with CIMER, you join a community that includes the best mentor trainers in the nation. It’s an honor to learn from them and have them be part of my network. I’m excited to continue my work as a Certified Facilitator and support infusing a culture of mentoring throughout the research enterprise,” says Kathy.

Please join us in recognizing and congratulating our fellow NORDP colleagues and the hard work they have put in to make mentoring a priority in their careers and across NORDP.

Written by Samarpita Sengupta

Mentoring Reflections: How we learned to stop worrying and choose what works for us

In this installment of Mentoring Reflections, Christine Erlien from Duke University (mentor) and Paula Carney from Loyola University (mentee), from the 2021-22 cohort of the Mentoring Program share their experiences with the program and the mentoring software, WisdomShare.  

Introduction

The Mentoring Program is a NORDP member benefit. I, as a mentee, see it as one of its treasures. The Program includes several successful components: committed mentors, high quality content, and engaging programming. Among the many resources developed to support the Program is the web portal WisdomShare, launched in 2021 to enable robust, metric-based matching for mentor-mentee dyads, to better engage mentors and mentees, and to provide a foundation for the mentoring relationship as well as a single location for mentoring program resources. 

Below, my mentor and I describe how we have used WisdomShare to support our mentoring relationship.  

Paula’s Mentee reflections

As a first-time mentee (and a previous mentor), I looked forward to seeing how WisdomShare could support our journey. I knew that the Mentoring Program resources had been integrated into the system, making them available to mentors and mentees. I also knew that I wanted to forge a relationship with my mentor and let our mentoring relationship determine what resources we used and how we used them.  

We were introduced by our mentoring program facilitator, through an email sent via WisdomShare. Chris then reached out to me, using the portal. While the portal was useful for making that initial connection, we have found using email worked better for us in terms of maintaining contact. 

I think the matching process facilitated through WisdomShare worked well and that Chris is perfectly suited to help me meet my goals as a mentee.  

I’d like to highlight two sections in WisdomShare that I have found useful: the Goal section on the Dashboard tab and the resource library available on the Learning tab. Among those resources is “Getting Off to a Strong Start,” which provides guidance for both the mentor and mentee on approaching the initial conversation, self assessment, the MESHH network (Mentorship, Expertise, Support, Helping-Hands), and the Individual Professional Development Plan. Both of us reviewed these materials. We reviewed the resource library and selected those that made sense for us to use. We reviewed the onboarding packet and used portions of it. Reflecting on the Individual Development Plan, I decided to include two major goals on my dashboard. I developed SMART objectives and have chosen to monitor progress using a Gantt chart with specific milestones and a timeline rather than the dashboard. I store the Gantt chart on a Google drive, which Chris can access.  

We discussed how we would approach confidentiality, referring to the checklist document, but decided a verbal discussion worked for us. I adapted the reflection worksheet from the reflections packet and completed it after attending a workshop related to my long-term goal. The reflection worksheet helped me consider goal feasibility and chart the best path forward. 

Chris’ Mentor reflections

I’d like to echo Paula in applauding the resources developed by the Mentoring Program. I have previously served as a mentor through NORDP but had no formal training. I participated in the mentor training in spring 2021, and Paula is one of my mentee matches.  

WisdomShare is a powerful integrator of resources, and I have found the materials helpful guides in structuring our conversation and provoking reflection. 

I will say, though, that the experience this year had a bit of “baptism by fire” feel. Mentoring matches were announced, followed by Mentoring Days and reveal of the WisdomShare software. We were off to the races! (Note: the Mentoring Committee is reflecting on and considering how to adjust the timeline around the match reveal.) There was lots to look at before the first meeting, and I felt a bit behind from the get-go given the prepopulated milestones in the system. But we quickly realized that the milestone deadlines were suggestions. Therefore, acknowledging the nature of summer (vacations!) and the need to be flexible with those dates, we had our initial meeting and have been working through the milestone sections. I have thoroughly enjoyed discussing goals and progress toward them with Paula.

Summary

There is a treasure trove of resources on WisdomShare that felt a little overwhelming in the beginning, but we quickly figured out how to choose what to use to support our mentoring journey. WisdomShare provides a great way to offer the Mentoring Program’s resources for flexible use, allowing mentors and mentees to choose the resources best fit to support their needs. As we work through the Mentoring Program calendar, we will continue to revisit these great resources. Thank you, NORDP Mentoring Program!  

https://nordpmentoring.mywisdomshare.com/Portals/0/OpenContent/Files/01-ImageTitleLink/Cropped/MESHH_Network_pic-crop.jpg

The Mentoring Committee employs a process of continual program improvement by soliciting and acting upon feedback from program participants. Plans for next year include spreading the information out over a more extended time period and developing a quick start guide for using the software. To learn more about Wisdom Share and other Mentoring Committee programs, please plan to attend the NORDP Mentoring Committee Open House, a meeting dedicated to celebrating current Committee members, taking stock of committee accomplishments, and welcoming NORDP members who are willing to get involved. Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 27th at 1pm CST for the Mentoring Committee Open House. All NORDP members are invited to attend!

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Career Navigators: Providing structure and support for the very first RD career transition

To sustain the growth in Research Development (RD), it is critical that we build pipelines and provide support to usher in the next generation of professionals. With that goal in mind, NORDP created strategic alliances with the National Postdoctoral Association, and that relationship heralded new early career development programs in the organization. One such leap forward was the creation of a trainee membership category by the Member Services Committee in 2019, which allowed those new to RD to avail a NORDP membership at a reduced cost but reap the same benefits of being part of this community. 

To provide additional support to these trainee members, the Mentoring Committee piloted a program called the Career Navigator, where trainee members were each paired with a more experienced NORDP member, the Career Navigator, who had a similar background as the trainee member and a career path the trainee member desired. The navigator would be a mentor who helped the trainee member determine whether RD is the right fit and if so, help them through the challenges of landing their first RD position. Seven trainee members were paired, and provided with mentoring resources and support. 

We caught up with the most recent pair of Career Navigator and trainee member: Dr. Kelsey Hassevoort, a Research Development Manager for the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Dr. Kellie Gross who recently accepted her first RD position at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and talked to them about their experiences with the program. 

Kelsey and Kellie met monthly and covered topics like creating job application materials, interview preparation, what a RD job could look like and networking. One of Kelsey’s favorite aspects of participating in the Career Navigator program was realizing how much in common she had with Kellie beyond their training as neuroscience researchers. The pair found common ground in their Midwestern roots, liberal arts education, and close family ties. Kellie similarly felt like she could relate to Kelsey from the beginning. This not only helped the pair form a strong bond, but also helped Kelsey tailor her advice. Kellie found the program “extremely helpful for my transition from postdoc to a full-time RD role.” The Career Navigator program further helped Kellie “feel welcomed into the NORDP community, and provided valuable structure and support to my career transition.” 

As with many mentoring positions, Kelsey was initially unsure about whether she would have enough useful information about job seeking in RD to be able to adequately support Kellie. But she was pleasantly surprised to discover “just how much information about searching and interviewing for RD jobs I’ve managed to absorb since starting in the field,” going on to say, “I fully credit NORDP’s professional development programming and my experience as a NORDP mentee, along with the opportunity to serve on multiple search committees at the University of Illinois, with providing so much useful information and advice about building a career and finding that first job in RD, which, in turn, I’ve been able to share with Kellie.”

Kellie felt that the Career Navigator program helped solidify her decision to pursue a career in RD. She noted, “Being able to hear in detail about someone else’s experiences working in RD, and seeing the level of support that NORDP has for its members’ mentorship and career development, further convinced me that I wanted to be a part of both this field and professional community.” 

As parting words of wisdom, Kelsey encourages pairs to approach the relationship with an open mind and be cognizant of the different skill sets each brings to the relationship. For Kelsey it was important to “be able to truly hear what Kellie wanted out of a career in research development, without projecting my own career aspirations onto our discussions.” Kellie wants trainee members to know that “it’s helpful to be specific about what you’re trying to get out of the program, whether that’s more information about RD careers, or guidance on navigating the job market or help with networking.” She adds, “I think a great aspect of this program is that you can make of it what you want, so don’t be afraid to speak up about what you need.”

The relationship Kelsey and Kellie have built has enriched them and allowed them to look at RD with a new perspective. As Kellie grows in her new role, she and Kelsey plan to keep in touch regularly and continue their mentoring relationship beyond the Career Navigator program. 

The Career Navigator program has led to four first-time RD positions, one RD postdoctoral position and one trainee member realizing a career in RD is not the right fit. The NORDP Mentoring Committee is engaged in formalizing the Career Navigators program in collaboration with the Member Services Committee.

To hear about this and other programs the NORDP Mentoring Committee has to offer, please plan to attend the NORDP Mentoring Committee Open House, a meeting dedicated to celebrating current Committee members, taking stock of committee accomplishments, and welcoming NORDP members who are willing to get involved. Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 27th at 1pm CST for the Mentoring Committee Open House. All NORDP members are invited to attend!

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Mentoring Philosophy: A Mentor’s True North

Contributed by Melissa Li, Mentoring Committee

Mentoring is a dynamic, multidimensional, and complex relationship. How do seasoned and new mentors and mentees navigate these relationships? A mentoring philosophy could act as a compass to help relationships find their true north. So, what is mentoring philosophy?  A mentoring philosophy is a statement of a mentor’s guiding principles and approach in the mentoring relationship. Mentoring philosophies evolve with people and relationships. A mentoring philosophy can help mentors steer varied mentoring relationships and guide their mentoring practice. 

To understand the creation and evolution of mentoring philosophies, the NORDP Mentoring Committee had the privilege of inviting two colleagues who are seasoned mentors to share their mentoring philosophies and how they have been evolving along their mentoring journeys. Rebekah Hersch, Interim Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation at George Mason University, and Etta Ward, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) have 20+ years of mentoring experience each. Rebekah and Etta have mentored diverse groups of mentees, including students, staff, faculty, postdocs, and alumni. Both are active mentors in the NORDP Mentoring Program.

At the early stage of Rebekah’s mentoring journey, she was more mission-oriented, dedicating help to solve her mentees’ problems, so that the mentees could achieve their goals. Two decades later, Rebekah now focuses more on fostering mentees’ independence by being an effective listener and empowering the mentees to find solutions themselves. Rebekah also believes in #PayingItForward. She attributes her success to many excellent mentors, from whom she has learned valuable strategies and tools that she has been applying when mentoring others. Rebekah also recognizes the importance of showing empathy to mentees and constantly seeking mentees’ feedback. What has remained a constant beacon in Rebekah’s mentoring philosophy is that she is committed to helping mentees achieve their goals for their professional development.

Etta started IUPUI’s first-ever Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program in the early 2000s. While she did not formally develop a mentoring philosophy at that time, she was deeply driven by this type of work as her professional calling and purpose. Over the years and through the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Entering Mentoring Facilitator training, she developed a simple but critical guiding philosophy: the mentee drives the relationship, the relationship must be reciprocal, and both the mentee and mentor must continue to #PayItForward. She refers to this philosophy at the beginning of every mentoring relationship in the many presentations she gives on the topic. Etta also realizes the critical importance of competency-based, culturally aware mentoring practices. She is intentional in her approach to integrate aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion, access, belonging, and justice (DEIABJ) throughout her mentoring efforts and to achieve a mutually beneficial experience.

As the NORDP community celebrates the National Mentoring Month, Etta and Rebekah are sharing their wise words with all of us: 

  • Do not be afraid to be a mentor or think that you are not ready. Everyone has something they bring to mentoring relationships. Mentors do not need to know all as they can help mentees by identifying experts who can help.
  • It is beneficial that mentees develop a network of multiple mentors. 
  • Mentors and mentees are encouraged to learn how to notice, name and nurture the various types of mentoring and other developmental relationships (coaching, sponsorship, etc.).
  • Take advantage of NORDP’s resources.

To celebrate National Mentoring Month, the NORDP Mentoring Committee is hosting an Open House, a meeting dedicated to celebrate current Committee members, take stock of our accomplishments, and welcome NORDP members who are willing to get involved. Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 27th at 1pm CST for the Mentoring Committee Open House. Email mentorprogram@nordp.org for the Zoom link. All NORDP members are invited to attend!

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.