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Digital Science Doodle (and Poem): What is a Great Mentor? #MySTEMrolemodel

16th October 2015
By Guest Author



For some reason, women in particular seem to get the brunt of criticism with regard to being in leadership positions. For example, a male boss may be described as “hardworking” whereas his female hardworking equivalent might be labeled as “bossy”.

Regardless, the most memorable and effective mentors that I have had over the years (both male and female) have shared similar but conflicting qualities with many of the other important people throughout my life.

Like a boss, they tell you what to do. They set deadlines, make rules, and have high expectations.
Like a human, when your grandma dies, they empathize (no rhyme intended). Grandmas trump experiments.
Like a teacher, a great mentor will bestow upon you all of the knowledge they have acquired over the years.
Like a learner, they understand that their field is constantly evolving, and that the people they have chosen to work in their lab are the people who develop these technologies (even though they often become very removed from it).
Like an enemy, a great mentor will motivate you by pointing out your flaws (when you’re being lazy, they tell you you’re being lazy).
Like a best friend, a great mentor will help celebrate your achievements (and fully acknowledge that you’re awesome!).
Like a parent, a great mentor will try their best to guide you so that you will ultimately do and be better than he or she is. Your performance is ultimately a reflection on them.
Like a child, a great mentor will still be in awe of you.
The best way to know what a great mentor is is to be lucky enough to have one.  Having someone in your life that inspires you will ultimately allow you to inspire someone else.

141114_15497_stemdiversity205.jpgDana Cairns received her PhD in Cell, Developmental and Molecular Biology from Tufts University School of Medicine where she was editor of the school newsletter, and spent lots of grant-funded time drawing silly cartoons. She is currently postponing adulthood further and doing a postdoc. Dana enjoys (in no particular order) traveling, bourbon, and burritos. She has a neat dog named, Loca. Dana dislikes writing in the third person.

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