Activating the Network, One Member at a Time
Learn how Member-to-Member Mentoring is helping young scientists tap into the power of the World’s Smartest Network®.
Published August 31, 2017
Multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, and global, the Academy’s Membership is among the most diverse, dynamic scientific communities in the world. Over 40% of our Membership falls into the “early career” category, meaning they are graduate students, postdocs, or newly minted professionals. Imagine if we could find a way for these young professionals to tap into the tremendous expertise and accumulated wisdom of our global network, regardless of where they live, work, or study! That is the idea behind the Academy’s Member-to-Member Mentoring Program, which launched in 2016. The program matches Members in a one-to-one mentoring partnership via a virtual platform, so that mentors and mentees from different geographies have the opportunity to connect and learn from one another.
Recently, we caught up with mentor Paul-André Genest, PhD and mentee Ekaterina Taneva, PhD—among the first program participants—to learn about their experience.
What is your scientific background and what are you currently working on?
Paul-André: I am a Molecular Parasitologist and Molecular Oncologist by training and did my PhD and postdoctoral fellowships at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. In 2012, after spending more than ten years doing biomedical research, I moved to New York and switched to scholarly publishing, first as a Managing Editor and then as an Associate Publisher and a Publisher at Elsevier. Since 2016, I have worked as a Senior Editor at Wiley where I oversee a portfolio of over twenty journals in the Life and Social Sciences.
Ekaterina: My science journey started with a BS/MS in Toxicology at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. In 2011, I joined Albert Einstein College of Medicine to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Sciences. As part of a multidisciplinary collaborative team dedicated to improving women’s health, I acquired in-depth understanding of the principles of translational research and its importance in patient outcomes. I now work as a medical writer for PRIME Education, LLC (Fort Lauderdale, FL), a company that provides accredited medical education and research focused on improving systems of care in a variety of disease areas. I am part of a dynamic team of medical and grant writers who develop evidence-based content on management of patients with infectious diseases.
Why did you choose to sign up for Member-to-Member Mentoring?
Ekaterina: I knew I wanted to pursue a non-academic career centered on medical writing and translational research. I wanted to expand my horizons, and what better way to achieve this than learning from someone who has walked the path that I envisioned for myself? I decided that participating in Member-to-Member Mentoring would be an investment in my future and, more importantly, a learning experience that offered me the possibility to get out of my comfort zone and receive the outside perspective I needed to make objective and informed career decisions.
Paul-André: At the end of my own postdoctoral fellowships, I experienced difficulties leaving academic research and finding the right career path for myself. I did not have a strategy in place and I could have benefited from the advice of a professional working in the publishing industry. I signed up to be a “Member-Mentor” in order to provide this opportunity to someone else. I am a strong believer in the importance of giving back and of being involved in the community.
What was it like to participate in Member-to-Member Mentoring?
Paul-André: I really enjoyed it and I appreciate the flexibility it provides as it lets the mentor and mentee take ownership of their mentoring relationship. My match with Ekaterina was excellent! We quickly bonded and either met or had discussions on a regular, monthly basis. I also helped her identify positions and referred her to jobs outside academia. We worked on her resume and cover letter and discussed job opportunities and companies that she found interesting.
Ekaterina: Participating in this program showed me the true value of professional networking and mentorship. Paul-André and I started by getting to know each other’s backgrounds and assigning monthly goals we both had to complete on time in order to have a fulfilling and enriching experience. He was dedicated to not only sharing his experiences but also in getting to know me as a person and guiding me into a type of working environment that would align with my professional and personal goals. I relied on his advice in almost every position I applied for, and he made himself available any time I needed feedback. Moreover, he invited me to career workshops and expanded my professional circle by bringing me into his own network of successful scientists who transitioned outside of academia. He guided me through the preparation of my thesis defense, and taught me to strive to be as persistent in my career aspirations as I have been in my academic endeavors.
Paul-André: I am very happy she managed to find a career that she likes and is stimulating for her. My experience was so positive that, after working with Ekaterina for the recommend six month mentoring period, I accepted a new match with another Mentee (though Ekaterina and I still keep in regular contact).
How has participating in Member-to-Member Mentoring influenced your work?
Paul-André: It has helped me think more about the skills and qualities candidates should have to join the scholarly publishing industry. Having an awareness of these traits will be useful for recruiting candidates for my own team. My mentoring experience also helped me develop my own leadership skills which I use to advise, coach and develop my current staff.
Ekaterina: It allowed me to meet a like-minded peer who shares a similar passion for translational science and, in particular, infectious diseases. Being able to share career plans with him and to receive his continuous input during a challenging transition created a solid support system for me. My mentor’s trust and investment in my success also reinforced my decision to mentor others in the program. Participating also inspired me to continue to improve myself so that I can be of utmost help to any of my peers who need additional support for achieving their career goals.
As Members yourselves, how would you describe the Academy’s Membership network?
Paul-André: The Academy has a very strong Membership network comprised of professionals with expertise in a wide array of disciplines and who are at various stages of their career. It is great that the Academy has programs where early-career Members can benefit from the experience and advice of more established professionals.
Ekaterina: The Membership network is diverse, open-minded, and welcoming. The Academy not only accepts, but also encourages students to initiate activities and collaborate with renowned scientists. This framework allows students and young professionals to enhance their transferable skills and gain confidence and a sense of belonging to a community. I have developed long-lasting connections with multiple Academy Members, from faculty and academic researchers, to entrepreneurs and fellow graduate students. By participating in resume workshops, career fairs, and symposiums organized by the Academy, I got acquainted with the most exciting discoveries while exchanging business cards and experiences with scientists from all over the world. It is through these Academy initiatives and programs that I felt I was growing beyond my “student” profile and turning into a broad-minded young professional.
Visit our Member-to-Member Mentoring page to learn more about the program and how you can participate. Note: you must be a current Member to participate.