Of the different levels of students, high school students may need more general guidance in terms of skills, career and college choices, and college coursework. Also, remember there are federal and state labor laws that you need to be aware of for students under the age of 18.
Your mentoring may simply consist of introducing them to the world of scientific work and to potential careers at both your facility and in your field.
As a role model, you should communicate the satisfaction you get from your career. Many students are energized by the enthusiasm and enjoyment they see demonstrated by their mentors.
High school students may also need help in developing:
As a mentor, you may be consulted about the student’s choice of college and/or major. You should encourage your student to:
Undergraduates may still need guidance in developing:
Encourage undergraduates to seek out a broad array of experiences through networking, coursework, and other internships.
Encourage students to think about their skills as they might relate to interdisciplinary research. Many undergraduates see their field in very narrow terms. They don’t realize that a chemist, for example, might be able to work with a team of environmental, material, or life scientists as well as with engineers.
Communicate the satisfaction you get from your career. Many students are energized by the enthusiasm and enjoyment they see demonstrated by their mentors.
Introduce students to important scientific journals in their field.
Undergraduates generally have a distorted view of how the professional world works. They are often unable to see themselves operating successfully within it. You can help define that world by providing advice and guidance on:
Deciding to go to graduate school is a big step for many students. But that decision may be trivial compared to the difficulty of choosing a school and advisor. As a mentor, you may be called upon to have critical input into this life-defining choice. You should encourage your student to:
As a mentor, you may have a pivotal role in helping a student decide to go to graduate school, choose a school, and select an advisor. You should encourage your student to:
Introduce students to as many of your contacts and networks as is feasible. Encourage them to use these networks, extend them, and create new ones.
Help students understand that their marketable skills are more than just discipline-related, but may include such important abilities as communication, project management, budgeting, and evaluation, among others.
Provide opportunities to develop professional skills, such as writing reports, contributing to proposals, making presentations, or teaching.
While postdocs have more experience than undergraduate or graduate students and have developed a specific area of expertise, they are still in great need of competent and active mentoring. Postdocs already know that they have a better chance of success if they work with a mentor to develop a formal research plan and then use that plan as a measure for success.
As a mentor to postdocs, your obligations are to:
Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), a U.S. Department of Energy institute, focuses on scientific initiatives including educating the next generation of scientists. ORISE is managed by ORAU.