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Find Those People Who Can Help

Posted on March 30, 2009

Seek mentors locally and at other institutions, advises Keith A. Trujillo (bio).


Here through the National Hispanic Science Network, and through other venues, I'm working with graduate students and post-docs and early career faculty to help them find their way. Science isn't an easy career, but it can be easier if you can find those people who can help.

I find my mentors in many different areas. And obviously one of the first places you want to look is locally, and there are many good people at any institution who are very committed to helping others. And I've found some very good people at my own institution.

And where I look for is not all those people that are at higher levels than I am, but also my peers because I see some of my own peers that are doing things very successfully. And so I'll want to talk with them about, "Well how are you so successful at this? How are you doing this so well?" and get their advice and get their help on that.

But in many cases you can't find those individuals at your home institution, and so you need to seek mentoring elsewhere. And that can be done at any sort of professional conference. At professional conferences, sometimes there's very formal ways to engage and meet with mentors, but sometimes you just have to do it informally. Go up and introduce yourself to somebody and start talking with them. As I reflect back on my career, that's how I met many of my mentors is in a poster session, going up and meeting a famous scientist and having the opportunity to get face to face time with them, and then that relationship can develop over a series of conferences.

And then the other way is to, there are many opportunities through the Internet to engage in mentoring and being mentored. I think of a website called MentorNet that is specifically devoted to matching people with other individuals who might help them in their careers. And so seek out any opportunities with people locally or at a distance for mentoring.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2008 National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Conference in Bethesda, MD.



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