The NORDP Mentoring Committee’s Mentor Training Team held a mentor training workshop in January – March 2023. Nineteen NORDP members completed the 5-week workshop, covering the 9-module Entering Mentoring curriculum initially developed for research mentors and tailored by the NORDP Mentoring Committee for RD professionals in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Center for Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER). RD professionals explored key mentoring competencies that can benefit RD mentors and mentees that have been associated with improved career outcomes, employee engagement and retention, and more inclusive work environments. The workshop was facilitated by NORDP members Toni Blair, Kristin Boman, Paula Carney, Rachel Goff-Albritton, and Melissa Li. The NORDP Mentoring Committee is committed to equipping Research Development professionals for success by offering meaningful mentoring expertise, support, and resources. The next Mentor Training Workshop is being planned and will be announced soon. If you would like to be contacted when the next workshop series is scheduled, please complete this form.
Congratulations to the following 2023 NORDP Mentor Training graduates!
North Dakota State University
University of Hawaii
University of Arizona
James Madison University
Texas Tech University
University of North Texas
Washington University in St. Louis
UC San Diego
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Syracuse University (Falk College)
The University of Texas at Austin
University of Colorado Denver
UMass Chan Medical School
University of Michigan
Arizona State University
List of graduates from the 2023 Mentor Training and their home institutions.
As part of the April 27, 2022 NORDP Awards session, NORDP Fellow Jan Abramson presented the 2022 NORDP Leadership Award with heartfelt emotion to her peer, colleague and friend — Kathy Partlow. The NORDP Leadership Award “honors a member, a group of members or team, an RD unit, or an organization that demonstrates exceptional leadership and/or a deep commitment to volunteerism in ways that advance the profession or field of RD.”
Jan began her recognition of Kathy with a quote from Peter Strople, former director of Dell Computer Corporation — “Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people. The legacy of leadership begins at the first moment of impact.” Jan’s moment of impact with Kathy began when they worked together on the Mentoring Committee. Whether we know it or not, our NORDP experiences have been touched in some way by Kathy’s quiet, behind-the-scenes leadership.
Jess Brassard from the Communications Working Group interviewed Kathy about her take on leadership.
Who: Kathy Parlow
Where: Remote-working from Oklahoma. Note: Kathy participated in this interview in her personal capacity.
Number of years in research development: 10
Length of NORDP membership: 10
What is leadership to you?
KP: Formally, I am a co-chair of the Mentoring Committee and the lead for the Evaluation & Innovation team. Broadly, I believe leadership is noticing that one is in a position to to bring others up. This can happen from any title or position. Leadership also means having a big-picture, strategic mindset to guide a group of people toward the group’s mission.
How did you learn or develop your style of leadership?
KP: My style of leadership is focused on others. I use the unit’s mission as a meter. My contributions started small and really grew as I became passionate about mentoring. Along the way, other leaders mentored me and helped me “settle in” to the style that best suits me. I was very much mentored into my servant leadership style.
How does your membership in NORDP develop your leadership style?
KP: I came to a point in my career where there was no pathway to leadership in my job and had a mentor that encouraged me to think more broadly about where I could gain leadership experience. I chose to develop my leadership capabilities outside my “day job” through volunteering and community service.
What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP, and how have these relationships influenced your work?
KP: I have connected to amazing colleagues and formed lasting friendships through mentee/mentor relationships and volunteer activities. Their guidance is infused through my work and career journey. I learned to be active and intentional about building relationships. Within the Mentoring Committee, I take it to heart. It’s the foundation of everything the Mentoring Committee does.
What do you wish you would have known when you began your leadership journey within NORDP?
KP: I wish I would have known earlier that leadership is a gentle pathway. It doesn’t need to be a switch that is flipped. I eased into the time commitment. The “rising co-chair model” of the Mentoring Committee and other NORDP committees helps with transitions. I appreciate the co-leadership and support this model enables.
What have you found most rewarding, and most challenging, about leading within NORDP? In your CAREER?
KP: As far as the most challenging — the Mentoring Committee leadership team saw the need to adapt to a growing NORDP. That meant large initiatives were needed to adapt and diversify the resources for mentoring (e.g. peer mentoring groups (PMGs) and implementing Wisdom Share mentoring software ). The reward from this hard work has been the feasibility of supporting record-breaking numbers of NORDP Mentoring Program participants. .
By far, the most rewarding part of NORDP is the people. I love to recognize and celebrate with NORDP volunteers in these accomplishments (and all the mini-milestones throughout).
What advice do you have for others within NORDP who are looking to develop as leaders?
KP: My advice is to choose a measured path. Most NORDP leadership roles allow you to ease into them. Make small contributions at first. Share your time and skills in areas that interest you. Find reward in the volunteer work.
Written by: Mentoring Committee Marketing & Communications, Sammy Rodriguez, and Charlene Emerson
The yearly NORDP Mentoring Program offers a structured mentoring experience for NORDP members. While the program officially runs for a year, a lot of participants continue their mentoring relationships long-term. This month, we catch up with one such long-term mentor-mentee pair as they share their reflections on their mentoring journey.
Sammy Rodriguez is currently serving as Interim Director for the Office of Research Advancement & Partnerships at Washington State University. He has been in research development and administration for over 10 years. His PhD is in educational psychology and his Masters in English literature. He is a member of NORDP’s Nominating Committee and also a mentor for NORDP’s mentoring program. He serves as a mentor for Charlene Emerson.
Charlene Emerson is a Scientific Editor and Writing Consultant for the NextGen Precision Health building at the University of Missouri – Columbia. It’s hard to know when her career in research development started exactly, but she has over 5 years of professional experience in science editing. She received her PhD in Molecular and Human Genetics from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. She is a mentee in NORDP’s mentoring program.
Q1: What influenced you to apply to be a mentor and a mentee for the 2021 NORDP Mentoring Program?
Charlene: I was very new to my position and to the Research Development field in general. I felt I needed to get advice and perspective about an RD career from someone who I didn’t work with closely, someone who could be relatively unbiased and candid in conversation. The NORDP Mentoring program felt like the perfect opportunity.
Sammy: Having NORDP go over the mentoring program in advance, its structure, the approach to pairing mentors/mentees, expectations, and its flexibility, provided more clarity on what to expect before deciding to sign up.
Q2: What is your favorite part about your relationship?
Charlene: My favorite part of my mentoring relationship with Sammy is how we’ve been able to watch each other grow and share in celebrating that growth. Our conversations have covered a lot of our challenges and ambitions, so it’s been great to be able to keep returning to that consistent support. I’m always looking forward to our next meeting to update him on my latest big project or to hear how his plans have turned out.
Sammy: My favorite part is that I gained a colleague I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Although Charlene is relatively new to the profession, she has so much knowledge and drive, and she’s a leader. Feels like we are mentoring each other. I’m happy that I am able to share some experiences and guidance and get feedback later on what was helpful, how an issue got resolved, or hear about a big win on her plans to advance her goals. It serves as validation and motivation to continue to share what we know with others.
Q3:How has participation in the Mentoring Program helped broaden your horizons about Research Development in general and/or affected your daily work in particular?
Charlene: RD is an incredibly varied field and I’ve learned a lot about the variety of positions and growth trajectories for an RD office. I now have more knowledge about different areas I could grow into and I don’t feel as uncertain about where this career path will take me. In my daily work, I feel much more confident that I’m approaching challenges and opportunities reasonably and that I have a supportive resource for any questions that come up.
Sammy: It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work of our office, our institution, but we have to keep a balance even within the professional sphere of our lives. It can’t just be tasks, tasks, tasks. We have to take care of ourselves and our colleagues, taking time for professional development, mentoring, taking a step back for a minute, and consider all those aspects that revolve around our profession. Doing so will ultimately make our careers more enjoyable, fruitful, and lasting. RD is truly a community, and as we grow and gain more and more years of experience, there is a responsibility to share what we know and our ideas. RD and NORDP are at a maturing phase where there is a broader space for mentoring as a key element for growth, looking to the future of RD and as an organization.
Q4: What surprised you about being a mentor or a mentee?
Charlene: I was surprised how easy it was to grow the relationship comfortably. Before the mentoring got started, I was nervous that it would feel awkward or that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. But once I decided to just open up and ask about topics that I’d been wondering about, insecurities about how to move forward with my career, or my perceptions of office politics, conversation came incredibly easy.
Sammy: How well it has gone. I think there’s always a level of apprehension when considering getting into a mentoring relationship. What if the pairing doesn’t work? What will we talk about? Is it going to be awkward? There’s a degree of opening up, whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, an element of vulnerability. Once you get past that initial pause and take the next step, then vulnerability turns into honesty and that builds trust. And I have to go back to a previous point I made, I’ve learned so much from Charlene. I knew that you also learn as a mentor, but I’ve learned in ways I had not anticipated.
Q5: What made you decide to maintain a longer-term mentoring relationship and how has it impacted you?
Charlene: It was an easy decision because I felt like we both still were getting quite a lot out of our conversations. Our monthly meeting doesn’t feel like an obligation or just another thing to get done, it’s a bright spot in the month.
Sammy: When the program was officially coming to an end, I think it was mutual that getting together and having these conversations, exchanging ideas, challenges, and successes had become natural. There wasn’t a reason it couldn’t or shouldn’t continue. I’ve read some advice that mentoring should have an end date, and I can see that, if the goals have been met, etc. But as I mentioned earlier, I’ve gained a colleague, a very knowledgeable, thoughtful colleague who has contributed to my professional development. We’re genuinely interested in contributing to each other’s success. Having someone to go to, vet an idea, ask a question, who knows you and at the same time is not biased due to proximity, is a great resource to have. I have gained a trusted colleague I can go to, and I’m also available to assist her in any way she feels I can be of help.
Q6: Any words of wisdom or encouragement for those wanting to apply next year? Any other thoughts you would like to share?
Charlene: Set expectations early on, then just relax and have a good conversation. And definitely don’t get caught up in thoughts that you’re taking up your mentor/mentee’s time, you’ve both chosen to be part of the mentoring relationship and there’s a lot to gain on both ends.
Sammy: Go for it. Getting outside our comfort zone is necessary for growth. Although each mentoring relationship is unique, there’s one common thread: whether as a mentor, mentee, or both, we all have an interest and are making a commitment to mentorship. It may feel like a gamble, but the odds are you’ll have a great experience!
Applications for the 2023-24 cycle will open in the spring; keep an eye out for emails from the NORDP listserv. Additional mentoring opportunities are available through the Peer Mentoring Groups that are open for participation throughout the year via the WisdomShare platform.
Investment in mentoring is an investment in you! So, as Sammy says, “Go for it!”
During January, the Mentoring Committee leveraged National Mentoring Month to share information about the many ways to get involved with mentoring. As Mentoring Month comes to a close, Susan Carter and Jan Abramson, NORDP Fellows and the inaugural recipients of NORDP’s Mentoring Award, share some thoughts.
Mentoring broadens perspectives,; establishes connections, and grows relationships. It’s a way to meet new people, learn new skills, and refine your own. Mentoring opens doors, and takes you places you might never have imagined. And, it is fun!
Susan reflects, “When I look back on my career in research development, one of the best professional steps I ever took was to engage with the Mentoring Committee and to become a mentor, both formally through the NORDP Mentor Program, and informally to others in RD. The time I spend mentoring really is fun, but most importantly, I have learned much more than I ever imagined I would. One definitely gets back more than one gives, which has been a huge benefit of being involved in mentoring. There is always someone I can call on when I need a new perspective, advice, or even just a friendly voice or face on Zoom for a bit of venting. Moreover, many of my mentees have become wonderful collaborators as well as great friends: we’ve built new ideas and new programs together.”
Jan shares, “the Mentoring Committee was my first step into NORDP, and mentoring continues to be a foundation of my life. Although I have retired, my connections stay strong, and I continue to #PayItForward. My world is richer thanks to the many relationships I have formed over the years. My intent is to nurture and celebrate connections — new and established. I’m thankful for my mentors, my mentees, and those who are peer mentors. I am who I am, because you touched my life.”
The Mentoring Program is a benefit available to all NORDP members, and we encourage you to get involved. Join a Peer Mentoring Group (open year round), register to participate in the 1- on- 1 or cohort-based mentoring program (applications open annually in the spring), join the Mentoring Committee, and be open to mentoring opportunities.
By the NORDP Mentoring Committee Leadership Team Jan Abramson, Angela Jordan, Elizabeth Lathrop, Hilda McMackin, Kathy Partlow
January 2023 marks a new chapter in a super busy post-Covid time for research development professionals. Whether you are re-adjusting to in-person or hybrid norms, you can enjoy some of our favorite holiday recipes shared at the Mentoring Committee’s virtual holiday party held in December.
We also invite you to join the Mentoring Committee Open House Thursday, January 19 at 2 pm Eastern by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a zoom link — everyone is welcome!
Recipe for Success on Mentoring
Desire to Connect Shared RD Experience Be Present to Lend Support Active Listening Protected Time WisdomShare Learning Library Resources
Begin your “dish” by signing up for the NORDP Mentoring Program in May.
Select recipe options: the One-To-One Dyad or the Cohort Mentoring.
Preheat the oven via the program kick-off and orientation in June.
Regular check-ins with your Mentor/Mentee(s) is the secret sauce that makes learning palatable and delicious!
Marinate the mentoring flavors by attending the regularly-scheduled McHuddles and connecting with other Mentors and Mentees.
Generously sprinkle any and all spices from the Peer Mentoring Groups or PMGs brought to you by NORDP members and accessible anytime on the WisdomShare platform.
Last but not the least, you can fine-tune your culinary skills by attending the NORDP Mentor Training Workshops — the Jan/Feb sessions are currently full but keep an eye out for additional offerings in 2023.
PMG Organizers: Don Takehara, Jet LeBlanc, Joanna Downer, Paula Carney, & M. S. (Peg) AtKisson.
The 2022 NORDP Conference included multiple sessions that addressed the discipline of coaching and how it can be used in research development (RD), including faculty research career development, research leadership development, and research team engagement.
The Coaching & RD Peer Mentoring Group (PMG) is now being launched to provide a vehicle for supporting NORDP members interested in coaching.
Coaching fits a broader collection of skills in the RD skillset to further faculty research career development and reflects the dynamic nature of the RD profession. Coaching is a powerful process that encompasses a distinct set of competencies. The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership. Trained coaches can engage individual faculty to address research career and research leadership development, facilitate research team engagement, and promote development of research leaders.
Using the peer mentoring model, the Coaching & RD PMG’s goals are to:
Enable members to explore coaching as part of the RD skillset
Develop programs to offer coaching as an RD service at the institutional level
Assess coaching as a contributor to faculty and organizational research attainment
Provide a setting for accountability and continuous improvement for RDs interested in coaching in research development
The Coaching & RD PMG is for NORDP members who may be curious about becoming a coach to add to their RD skillset, interested in adding coaching to an institution’s faculty research career, research leadership development, or research team engagement programs, as well as other opportunities for RD professionals that may benefit from inclusion of coaching.
By Jeremy Steinbacher (Syracuse University) and Leah Gorman (Oregon State University)
We are seeing new opportunities for transdisciplinary teams to develop proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries to increase the societal impact of research. Our institutions are excited by these opportunities, thinking creatively about how they might nurture environments that foster transdisciplinary work, and looking to research development (RD) professionals to help spark and facilitate these collaborations. For many members of the NORDP Collaboration and Team Science Peer Mentoring Group (CTS PMG), the skill set needed to do this work has not traditionally been a central part of our professional training. In addition, our institutions may not be familiar with how other institutions are approaching this work. Combined, the lack of both training and institutional knowledge leaves many RD professionals with the feeling that we are constantly reinventing the wheel when facilitating team science. The CTS PMG seeks to address this challenge by offering an opportunity for RD professionals to share best practices and develop strategies toward creating working knowledge of team science at our institutions.
Below, we address some common questions about the CTS PMG and the work we have engaged in over the last year.
How is a peer mentoring group different from other types of professional development environments you might use to build skills for fostering collaboration and team science?
All of us have access to a variety of professional development opportunities through our employers, professional societies, and educational institutions. Many of these are highly-structured workshops and classes with a designated leader/instructor and, for the most part, strangers as co-participants. On the other hand, the PMG environment offers several characteristics that provide a distinct learning experience.
First, the PMGs do not have a single, defined topic at the outset; rather, the material is flexible to the needs, experience, and interests of group members. Though the CTS PMG set a schedule of topics for monthly meetings early in the year, we remained flexible to accommodate new topics as the group evolved.
Additionally, unlike a workshop, class, or a traditional dyadic mentoring relationship, a PMG benefits from a range of perspectives, rather than training on a single approach. Every facilitator brings a different style and the open nature of discussions encourages input from all participants regardless of experience level. Importantly, the setting of ground rules by the group itself early in the meeting cycle helps create a psychologically safe environment where it is ok to be vulnerable. This helps members recognize and express the limits of their knowledge, knowing that the other participants are there to support each other’s growth.
PMGs also offer the chance to build relationships with other NORDP members beyond the annual conference experiences and the more structured learning opportunities.
What did we learn about collaboration and team science this year?
The CTS PMG discussed a wide variety of topics over the last year!
Sharon Pound (University of Tennessee) led a discussion about the relationship aspects of teams, including how to deal with common barriers in communication and expectations, and also the benefits of long-term team building.
Laura Heinse (University of Idaho) presented strategies for after-action review, such as post-submission debriefs with a team to determine course corrections and evaluate lessons learned.
Chris Erlien (Duke University School of Medicine) and Eva Allen (Indiana University) gave an overview of the many issues unique to developing center proposals with large teams, both practical impacts like project management and strategic issues surrounding group ideation and leadership.
Melanie Bauer (Nova Southeastern University) shared a range of strategies that she has employed to facilitate faculty networking within her institution and with other institutions in her state.
Leah Gorman and Sarah Polasky (University of Missouri-Columbia) led a discussion about collaboration across disciplines and the strategies we employ when team members working in very different disciplinary cultures.
Finally, guest speakers Kristine Glauber and Christine Hendron of Intereach introduced us to their community of “boundary spanners” working across disciplines. Chris Erlien provided a nice description of their talk in a recent blog post.
How can NORDP members get involved in a PMG?
The NORDP PMGs are open to all members. We encourage experienced practitioners to participate in these groups as a way to build community and share best practices (#payitforward). To see the available PMGs, visit your dashboard on the WisdomShare platform and scroll down until you see the list of Peer Mentoring Groups, where you can click to join. Our PMG group will kick off again in September, and everyone who has joined will get the notification message. If you have already joined a PMG or a few, we hope that you continue participating in the same or new PMGs this upcoming year. If you have not yet tried a PMG, we strongly encourage you to attend this year! To all, bring your curiosity, a willingness to share your experiences, and lots of questions.
The NORDP Mentoring Committee is planning a PMG Orientation in October. Keep an eye out for the event announcement and we welcome everyone to participate!
First awarded in 2022, the NORDP Mentoring Award recognizes an individual NORDP member’s unique ability to provide an engaging, supportive, and inclusive environment for professional and/or personal growth through mentorship in the research development community. This award is bestowed with the acknowledgment that effective mentoring occurs through formal and informal channels and may vary in style and substance.
Who: Jan Abramson, Principal Consultant
Where: Penultimate Advantage
Number of years in research development: 17
Length of NORDP membership: 11 years
What has your mentoring journey within NORDP looked like?
In 2011, on the advice of a colleague, I joined NORDP shortly after taking a new position at the University of Utah. Like many, I ‘found my people’ when I joined NORDP. I applied for the mentoring program – and was not matched my first year. It was a disappointment, but I’m pretty tenacious – I found other ways to get involved as a NORDP volunteer, including expressing an interest to volunteer for the mentoring committee. Within a year, I was on the committee, and matched with a mentor, too.
Since then, I have remained involved with the Mentoring Committee, served as a mentor, and have benefited from being a mentee. It’s been exciting and rewarding to watch the mentoring program grow as NORDP has increased membership, and to have been a part of the committee that has focused on supporting mentors, mentees, and members, providing new programs and services, and adapting to the needs of NORDP members. It pleases me that the Mentoring Committee works hard to make sure everyone who wants to be a part of the mentoring program, can indeed participate. AND that the Mentoring Committee is an open, welcoming, awesome group, so come join us!.
One fun story about how the mentor-mentee process has evolved over the years: in the early days, matching took place manually (this was when NORDP was a smaller organization). As the number of people interested in mentoring grew, the first step toward an automated matching process was that someone wrote R code to do the matching. So we would receive applications, run the code, go back in and tweak the matches, then recruit more mentors to ensure that everyone could be matched. Now, as you know, the committee uses WisdomShare, which has been a real help as the number of NORDP members interested in participating in the mentoring program continues to grow!
What initially drew you to mentoring?
I think because early in my professional journey, I didn’t really have mentors, I had an ‘unnamed need.’ My first work in higher ed was in student development, student leadership, and orientation, and I soon recognized the power of mentoring to help students tap into their potential. From there, my commitment and passion grew, and I began to seek out mentors, and mentor others. I have been able to immerse myself in the world of mentoring, seek formal training, and really start to bring together the elements of mentoring that had always been in the orbit of my career. I found it so rewarding to be able to give, share and support others, that mentoring is woven into the fabric of my professional and volunteer work.
What does being a good mentor mean to you?
My mentoring philosophy is my foundation: I mentor to #PayItForward, to help colleagues see and become their best selves. Being a good mentor does not mean having all the answers, being perfect, or having to fix things. Being a good mentor is being human, learning along the way (the easy lessons, and the hard ones), and at the end of the day, honestly believing you did the best you could. (and being willing to learn and grow)! I have also found that good mentoring is oftentimes just attentive listening, and then being willing to reflect on what you’ve heard. It’s really important to build a relationship with your mentee so that when you listen attentively and offer your perspective, you can say the things that will help the mentee, especially the hard things.
And if you’re nervous about making that transition from a mentee to a mentor, it’s really important to remember that the Mentoring Committee has put together tools and resources and stop-gaps and checks. Nobody becomes a mentor in NORDP on their own, all you need to do is reach out to somebody on the mentoring committee and ask for support. The Mentoring Committee has put together a solid support system in order to help anyone who’s ready to step into the role of a mentor!
What do you wish you had known when you began your mentoring journey?
As a mentee, I wish I had not been so worried about imposing on my mentors’ time and hadn’t spent time feeling intimidated by my mentors. As I became a mentor, it became clear to me that a person who volunteers to be a mentor is doing it from a place of wanting to be a mentor. Sometimes life gets in the way (see my earlier point about mentors being human), but mentors really do take on that role because they want to be involved in those relationships.
And as a mentor, I wish I would have been more aware of the many resources available to those looking to hone their mentoring skills. Looking back, I wish I had started that deliberate learning around mentorship skills earlier. I also wish I had known how much I would learn, grow and benefit from being a mentor. I wish I had known how much joy mentoring would bring, and how my personal and professional networks would expand exponentially!
It can be intimidating to become a mentor — yet, we all have something to give, share, and so many ways to #PayItForward. And always remember, the Mentoring Committee is ready to help you in your mentoring journey. Being a mentor is an opportunity to keep learning, expanding networks, and enjoying colleagues.
What have you found most rewarding, and most challenging, about being a mentor?
The most rewarding part of being a mentor is all of the great people that have become a part of my life. It has been the human-to-human connections that have turned into heart-to-heart connections –– and the connections that continue through career and life changes. It’s the reconnecting, and picking up where we left off. I recently ran into a student that I mentored more than 20 years ago and whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years. And as we struck up a conversation, we both had that immediate recognition of connecting at a heartfelt level. It is an amazing feeling.
The most challenging times, as a mentor, is when the relationship seemingly goes off the rails. When, for whatever reason, the space for grace is gone. Those times, albeit, very rare, are for me, times of pain and sorrow. But they have propelled me to new insight about myself, my mentoring style, and what is really most important for me.
What advice do you have for others within NORDP who wish to follow in your footsteps?
My advice for my fellow NORDP members: get involved. Wherever, however, and whenever you can. Find the place where you can make a difference. I’ve served on committees, co-chaired a NORDP conference and served on the NORDP board. I have valued each of these experiences, and through them learned that it’s committee work where I feel I have made the most lasting contributions.
And there’s no need to follow in my footsteps! Forge a new path. It’s so exciting to see all of the growth and changes taking place in NORDP, under the leadership and guidance of the next generations of RD professionals. Be true to your own path, build on the connections you make along the way, and pay it 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).
A mentoring reflection from Melissa Li, a Research Manager at the University of Michigan.
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.