Peer Mentoring

by Guest on April 20, 2012

Hannah Jang-Condell is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Wyoming. She is also a member of the AAS Committee of the Status of Women in Astronomy, and is the blogger-in-chief of the Women in Astronomy Blog.

There are a lot of things you can do to boost your chances of career success but I want to tell you about something that made a huge difference in my life: peer mentoring.

Peer mentoring does not take the place of a traditional mentor-mentee relationship, but is, instead, a valuable additional resource you can turn to. I was in a group composed of four professionally ambitious academics with young children at home. The goals of the group include solving practical problems related to grant writing, productivity, and professional skills but also to address problems like imposter syndrome, isolation, bias, and work-life balance. Over the two years that we met, my peer mentoring group served as my sounding board, my conscience, and my cheerleader. In return, I fulfilled the same roles for my fellow group members. Our original group turned out to a victim of its own successes: we ended up parting ways when several of us moved across the country for tenure-track positions in science. Still, each of us is committed to creating new GPS groups in our new locations.

We called our group GPS, for “Goals and Problem Solving for Scientists,” and it did indeed help each of us navigate our way to career success. You can read more about our story in Science Careers, in this talk (PDF), and at gpsgroups.com. Our group was based on the group described in the book Every Other Thursday: Stories and Strategies from Successful Women Scientists, which tells the inspirational story of a professional problem solving group that lasted 25 years!

Consider creating a group of your own, especially if you are an early-career scientist. For more information read the Science Careers article, visit gpsgroups.com, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

Do you have a peer-mentoring success story? Share in the comments!

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