2014 AWS Conference Breakout Session – Mentoring & Career Advancement

21 Nov 2014

by Nancy L. Gantt, MD, FACS

Our packed table energetically discussed mentoring, sponsorship and career advancement. The discussion highlighted challenges some of the members were having at their own institutions.
We spent a lot of time talking about the difference between mentorship and sponsorship, and why both are necessary for academic success. Dr. Emina Huang provided her insights about the difference between those two roles and how to find a sponsor. She noted that sponsorship is different than mentoring – the former helps with providing opportunities and exposure; the latter helps you with the steps to get there.

The discussion about Mentorship highlighted the following points:

  • Mentorship is valuable in all aspects of your professional AND personal life.
  • You will likely need more than one mentor, as a single person may not be able to meet all your needs.
  • Selecting a Mentor will be facilitated if you approach someone that you have worked well with, as your values have to be similar.
  • A mentor, or sponsor, can be someone outside your home institution.
  • If you are being stymied in your career progression by your Mentor because of their insistence to “follow specific channels” you may need to creatively develop a plan to include your current Mentor and a potential sponsor figure to further your career.
  • Members were directed to the Career Development Resource on the AWS website: “Strategies for Building an Effective Mentoring Relationship”.

In closing – you can have it all – just not all at the same time. Mentors and sponsors can help you achieve personal and professional success.

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