Mentorship is a vital component of any scientist’s career. For an early-career scientist, fostering a strong one-on-one relationship with an experienced professional in your field will open you up to new opportunities for growth as your mentor shares his or her connections, knowledge and skills and helps you focus your own timelines and priorities.
Find a Mentor
Like most McGaw housestaff, you will likely begin your search for a mentor by speaking with the program director about what you hope to do with your research project. He or she will help you narrow your focus, give you a better idea of what time your program will allow you to commit to research and direct you to a good potential mentor. The director is your best resource, as he or she will know best which faculty members may share your research interests.
Northwestern Scholars is another great resource. It's a searchable database of research expertise across all disciplines at Northwestern University. View our guide on how to use the database to find a mentor.
Start with several potential mentors, and speak with them all. By meeting in person — and perhaps sharing your Individual Development Plan — you'll both get a good sense as to whether you’ll work well together.
Improve Your Relationship
Shared research interests and a desire to work together doesn’t guarantee the type of relationship you want. The mentor-mentee relationship needs to be fostered and developed on both ends in order to succeed.
Both mentors and mentees alike should consider attending a Mentor Development Workshop, led by the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute.
The four-hour session will help you set expectations for your relationship, as well as address the key concerns and challenges you’re likely to encounter along the way.
Divisions and departments may also reach out to the Center for Education and Career Development to plan a custom workshop if they have specific needs related to content or timing.