How have you benefited from mentoring?

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I've never had an official mentor. I've had some informal ones that have given me motivation and confidence to keep moving forward. In my undergrad, we were paired with advisors who acted more as someone to sign off on the classes you enrolled in to make sure you were on track with the degree requirements. It was especially tough to have minimal assistance to help prepare you for a career. In my case, I studied Astronomy and it's a degree that is NOT in high demand in the work force. I didn't even know if I should be applying to masters programs or PhD programs or how to get involved with research. I took matters into my own hands and started knocking on professors doors and soon enough I was lucky enough to land a summer research job in Astrobiology and gain meaningful career advice!

From then on, I decided to enroll in masters courses at my university (university of colorado) and began to presented my research at science conferences and graduate conferences. It was at my first Astrobio Graduate conference in Seattle that I met Shawn Domagal-Goldman and a bunch of other AWESOME astrobiologists (many of them friends on SAGANet and some of them fellow admins!!!). Whether Shawn knew it or not, his advice over the years has truly helped in shaping my career. He's given me confidence in my abilities and has been very honest. These are qualities that I believe makes a great mentor, and I hope to carry them into my own mentoring.

Looking back it would have been great to have a formal mentor in any stage of my education (this is the primary reasons I'm a S.A.G.A.N. mentor now), regardless, I feel incredibly lucky to have befriended a big brother Astrobiologist that took the time to offer advice to an up an coming Astrobiologist through the years. THANKS SHAWN!!!!!

I never had a formal science mentor, though it would have been nice. When I was 13 I was assigned a more general purpose mentor. We had just moved (again) and it was clear to everyone at my new school that I was an at-risk kid. For reasons I would never wish on anyone, I was truly at the lowest point in my life. All I knew when they offered me a mentor was that it got me out of a despised teacher's class for an hour each week so I said ok. Then I was introduced to Terry; a strange bespectacled woman with freaky teased white hair and a penchant for glittery clothes. She wore so much make-up she could have been 40 or 70. During our first visits I said very little-I did not want to trust anyone- but over time I got more comfortable. Terry couldn't solve my problems but it was good to know someone was there.

I was fortunate to have "science mentoring," and it aided me to understand many aspects of professionalism. In my opinion, younger scientists need a good mentor from time-to-time. Currently, I am fortunate enough to have someone in my corner to guide me with science writing.

 

Because I possess just a BA (Chem), mentoring can be more critical for success than to those fortunate enough to have finished an MS or higher. Enough can't be said in furthering your education, knowledge, and wisdom. 

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