Captain Your Own Ship
“My mentor [name here] won’t tell me what to do!” Twice in the same week is two times too many for this complaint. From faculty members no less.
Mentors don’t choose for you. Mentors are not your personal decider-on-call. Mentors are not the captain of your ship. You are.
As a research mentor for early career biomedical faculty, I aim to ensure you understand the voyage ahead. I will regale you with tales of the Northern Passage (first R01), the Southern Passage (first U54); with stories of poor choices of crew, and the storm that nearly wrecked my experiments. I will help you chart a course for your Atlantic crossing. I will build your skills and knowledge. I will give you pointers about navigation, preparation, and how to persuade investors (study section). I will assess your readiness and devise tests to assure you are ready.
I want to be a mentor who:
Shares my navigational charts
Helps you envision key ports of call
Lends you crew
Advises while you select and train your own
Helps with provisions
Critiques your itinerary
Hears and vets your plans
Provides a rescue if the sailing is especially tough
Launches you on your great adventure
But I will not pick your destination, ask you to repeat my voyages, or provide the inspiration required to ignite your goals.
I cannot be you. Your work and your career need you at the helm.