Once upon a time (and probably a very short time at that) “everyone” knew that an academic career was clear: get that PhD, complete a postdoc to improve skills, take your first faculty position and move up the ranks. That is certainly no longer the case – in fact, the number of PhD level scientists and engineers working in academe has dropped from 55% in 1973 to 44% in 2008 and most of us recognize the increasing difficulty of finding and succeeding in an academic career. Further, there is increasing recognition that in science, as in business, there is a significant advantage to those receiving career mentoring. Studies have shown that mentoring is associated with improved career outcomes from higher compensation and greater job satisfaction to a more positive view of career trajectory and a stronger commitment to that career. This has been recognized by the federal funding agencies who now have multiple mentored grant award mechanisms, designed to increase the number of young scientists entering the workforce and to aid in ensuring their success.
It is slow and often painful to learn exclusively from experience, valuable as the lessons learned by doing so can be. You do not plan to use only personal experience to teach you scientific methods, and you should equally recognize the need for outside guidance and information in planning your career. The fact is that, in the modern era, academic science moves far too fast – the slow will be using those PhD’s to drive taxi cabs. Mentors – not ONE mentor, but the many mentors you will have throughout your career – will be very important in helping you to have a career that you consider successful.
Today’s reality in academic medicine and research involves unique challenges at each career stage:
Mentorship Workshops & Courses:
Mentor-Trainee Relationships. L.J. Larson-Prior. Washington University School of Medicine PERCSS-RCR Event, 2013
Successful grantsmanship for mentored awards. L.J. Larson-Prior. Medical Scientist Training Program Workshop, April 2012.
Successful grantsmanship for mentored awards. L.J. Larson-Prior. Medical Scientist Training Program Workshop, February 2010.
Adrienne Davis, WU StL Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Joan Lakoski at the MIDAS center of Excellence
Older Mentorship Workshops & Courses:
Building Career Success: finding and sustaining dynamic mentoring relationships. L.J. Larson-Prior. Panel discussion following lecture: L.J. Larson-Prior, PhD (moderator); K. O’Malley, PhD;K. Kornfeld, MD, PhD; S. Imai, MD, PhD; A. Stowe, PhD. Presented at: Washington University Professional Development Series, 2009.
Empowering Academic Career Success. L.J. Larson-Prior. Presented at: Washington University Professional Development Series, 2008.
Managing Your Mentor: Tips for Being a Successful Mentee. Office of Academic Career Development Postdoctoral Professionalism Series. J.M. Lakoski and L. J. Larson-Prior. University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. 2007.
Maximizing Mentoring Relationships. Office of Academic Career Development Health Science Faculty Professional Development Series. J.M. Lakoski and L. J. Larson-Prior. University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. 2007.
Empowering Academic Career Success. L.J. Larson-Prior. Presented at: Washington University Professional Development Series, 2006.
Empowering Academic Career Success: Building and Sustaining Mentoring Relationships. L.J. Larson-Prior. Presented at: Washington University Postdoctoral Seminar Series, 2005.
Maximizing Your Effectiveness as a Mentor. L.J. Larson-Prior and J.M. Lakoski. Presented at: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, 2004.
Strategies to Ensure Successful Mentoring. J.M. Lakoski and L.J. Larson-Prior. Presented at: Southern Regional Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Conference. 2003.