As part of my PhD (I’m on the University of Nottingham BBRSC Doctoral Training Programme) I get to escape the lab for 3 months and have the exciting opportunity to try something completely new and totally unrelated to my current work. I knew from the start I was going to use this chance to explore new avenues outside of laboratory work, so here I am! Now managing and supporting the v i s t a mentoring platform, working with Kay Guccione at The University of Sheffield.
The v i s t a mentoring platform (part of the v i s t a suite) is aimed at PhD students or research staff at the university of Sheffield looking to make the transition into a career outside of academia. The platform enables mentees to browse profiles of PhD graduates who have succeeded in careers outside of the academy, and engage in 1:1 mentoring at a time and in a format most suited to them. The network is a brilliant opportunity to develop personal and professional networks whilst learning about the in’s and outs of different jobs from people who can give honest and insightful opinions.
Currently we have 40 mentors, from a variety of backgrounds and careers, singed up and ready to offer their expertise and guidance, however only half of the them have actually been approached by mentees over the last couples of years. And of the 158 mentees signed up to the scheme, only 12% have completed profiles and actively engaged with a mentor, a number which I hope to increase during my time here. My aims during the coming months are:
- Raise awareness of v i s t a amongst PGR and postdocs and recruit new mentees to the portal scheme.
- Support and assist mentees and mentors so they get the most of the system.
I’ve spent my first few weeks getting to grips with the portal, checking out what was going on and who was still active and who had moved on. I’ve made contact with every member, introducing myself and checking in with the current status of their profiles and asking for feedback on their mentoring experiences so far. It’s been great reading the feedback from both mentees and mentors, which has been really positive with some good ideas for improvements.
“A career as a patent attorney was something I’d considered before, but a previous encounter with someone who was very negative about it put me off. I decided to connect with a mentor who works as a patent attorney currently and it was great. They sent me a really detailed and well thought out reply to my questions and were very encouraging. We chatted over skype and I got more insight into the career itself, the skills required, and what the training involves. My mentor very kindly looked over my C.V. for me and I have since completed an internship working with a patent attorney which has convinced me this is the career for me! “
Now it’s time to recruit as many new mentees as possible, so I’ll be popping up at various PGR and ECR events around the University to advertise the mentoring platform!