Supporting mentors and mentees in Paris

The Institut Curie’s Training Unit team are developing a new mentoring scheme to pair postdocs with established senior scientists in Curie. The aim of the programme is to guide the postdocs in the next tricky steps in their careers. In my experience, you can’t underestimate the importance of support from someone who has been through it before.

The view from just outside Institut Curie.

Mentoring for scientists is crucial because of the complicated system of career progression. The competition for posts is intense and funding is scarce. The route forward is often opaque and it is not enough to be a great scientist – you have to be an excellent communicator and politician too. With so much to take into account mentoring from colleagues who have successfully navigated the career path is invaluable.

Yesterday I ran Mentoring Skills masterclasses for postdoctoral researchers and senior scientists to get them started on the right foot. Some of the issues that we discussed were establishing a good relationship between a mentor and mentee and setting out mutual expectations. We also talked about the importance of asking open questions to enable mentees to explore and solve their own problems. I finished both masterclasses with case studies to discuss how to handle tricky problems that arise in mentoring relationships.

In addition to running two masterclasses I had an interesting discussion with the Training Unit team to help them plan the implementation of the mentoring programme. We sorted out how the scheme would be administered, marketed and how participants would be supported on an ongoing basis.

I am especially excited about the mentor support group that they have planned. This group will bring mentors from across the institution together to discuss challenges that they have faced as mentors. By supporting each other they will be a better resource for the postdoctoral researchers in the scheme.