CVG Mentoring Program

Fall 2023

Registrtion for the current mentoring program is now closed. The Mentoring Program will be open again to new participants in Fall 2024.

The CVG is excited to continue its Mentoring Program for the 2023-2024 academic year. Our trainee community has been enthusiastic about this program, so in response to suggestions from past participants, we are extending the duration of the program to a full academic year. Our goal with this initiative is to promote cross-disciplinary conversations that we hope will lead to new connections and ideas, and to provide additional informal support on the “soft skills” of academic science: work/life balance, career development, and preparing fellowships as just some examples. The intention of this program is to supplement existing departmental or graduate field mentoring programs, not to replace them. The CVG comprises members from across the university and is well-positioned to help initiate interdisciplinary connections, specifically within the realm of genetics and genome-scale biology.

We invite senior graduate students (4th year and above), postdocs, and faculty to sign up as mentors, and graduate students (of all years) to sign up as mentees.

The mentoring program is led by the CVG trainee executive committee (Ian Wolff, Connor Kean, and Michelle Liu).

Program Benefits

You might wonder - why do trainees need mentors outside of their committees/advisers or other research-based mentoring relationships? Early-career researchers greatly benefit from relationships with mentors who aren’t formally responsible for assessing a student’s progress through A/B exams or thesis committee meetings. Such mentors can provide more informal advice and may be an extra resource that mentees can rely on for both scientific and professional growth. Less formal academic mentor-mentee relationships, even ones that are brief, can make a difference in promoting inclusion and retaining trainees in science. Senior graduate students and postdocs can benefit from the chance to mentor a graduate student within a casual and informal framework, and mentees can benefit from someone rooting for them outside of a more formal academic context.

The programs’ in-person meetings create a sense of community and allow for networking beyond just the mentor-mentee pairs. This is a rare opportunity for an organized, inter-departmental program to foster connections between postdocs and grad students that may not have a chance to meet otherwise.

Time commitment

Program participants commit just one hour per month for the duration of the program, September through April. The program will include three in-person events: An initial event to allow mentors and mentees to get to know each other and establish a relationship, a winter social allowing us to check-in with participants, and a closing event to celebrate and evaluate together. In total, we anticipate about 4-5 hours per semester. These in-person events allow the program to initiate matching pairs that are likely to be most productive, facilitate open conversation between mentors and mentees, promote a sense of community, and provide an informal opportunity for feedback or support.

Matching and in-person event

At registration, we ask potential mentors and mentees to fill out a form expressing their needs/interests in an informal mentoring relationship. Based on this data, we will perform preliminary matching to pair each mentor with three potential mentees and vice versa. At the introductory event in September, these preliminary matches will meet one-on-one (for 15 minutes per pair – so in 45 minutes, all mentors will have met with three potential mentees and all mentees will have met with three potential mentors). Immediately after, mentees will list their choice of mentor from 1-3. While we will assign pairs, there will be a break with food and an open opportunity to socialize. For the second half of the event, the final matched pairs will meet to discuss what they would like to achieve with the program and relationship. We recommend they write down 1-3 goals for the mentorship (these goals can be specific – e.g., learn a particular computational approach, or broad, e.g., discuss career).

September - April program

From September through April, we ask that pairs commit to meet for at least one hour each month. The program will host a winter social which will be an informal opportunity to discuss the program and ways to support the mentorships. In April, we will host a final meeting to celebrate the program and provide participants an opportunity for feedback. Mentors and mentees will also review their initial goals and achievements.