Mentoring Matters: STEM Connector
By Laura Eamon and Sarah Kilford
Meet Sarah and Laura, two of the three co-op students gaining work experience in Halifax’s ocean industry this summer. Having already completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability, Sarah is now a computer science student at Dalhousie University. Laura is an economics student at Saint Mary’s University with hospital administration experience under her belt with a diploma from NSCC.
This summer we had the exciting opportunity to take part in an internship at DeepSense, funded through the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE). In this position, we took the lead on STEM Connector after its first pilot year of programming. During this time, we found ourselves reading, brainstorming, and talking about mentorship a lot to organize and enhance this valuable mentorship program. What have we learned during this time? Everyone can benefit from mentorship! You don’t need to do everything alone, and your career will thank you for participating. Mentoring is all about sharing your experiences for others to learn from. So it seems only right, after managing STEM Connector and thinking about mentorship all summer, we should share some of our thoughts and what we have discovered along the way.
Mentorship and its Benefits
Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced person provides support and knowledge to a less experienced person across a wide range of issues relevant to work, life, and professional development. The focus of mentorship is to build a space of trust so the mentee can feel secure to seek advice on issues impacting them in school or work. Studies have shown mentorship can promote positive outcomes in behaviour, attitude, motivation, relations, and career opportunities. It is important to remember mentoring is for everyone. At any point in your career, you can benefit from speaking to someone with more experience or different perspectives than you. Mentoring is adaptable and can take many forms to fit your needs and help you find success.
Let’s talk about some of the known benefits that come from participating in mentorship. Employees who participate in mentoring programs are more likely to be promoted and to receive increased salaries than those who do not participate. Mentorship allows both mentors and mentees to feel more empowered and helps them to gain confidence. Furthermore, almost everyone who has been mentored will go on to mentor others, so the benefits continue to grow! Mentored individuals often earn higher performance evaluations, and higher salaries, and experience faster career progression. Effective mentoring can reduce feelings of stress, worry, and sadness. At the graduate and postdoctoral stages in STEM fields, effective mentoring has long been identified as an essential catalyst for performance, success, and career advancement. Importantly, positive mentoring relationships have been shown to increase the success and retention of students from traditionally excluded and underrepresented groups. *
Mentorship is a valuable tool you can add to your support network. A support network refers to the people in your life who can help you achieve your personal, academic, and professional goals. It is your personal team you would turn to for advice, guidance, encouragement, and support during different points in your life. A mentor can be part of this support network as they provide a sense of connection, give you personalized advice backed by their experiences, and create a space for accountability.
Our Mentorship Experience
Mentorship was built right into our summer internship! Through COVE, we were paired with Elizabeth MacRae from NATIONAL. Our weekly meetings help us to feel confident and heard throughout our internship and we are endlessly thankful for her time and insight. Our mentoring didn’t end there, we would also like to thank our supervisor turned mentor turned friend, Lucija Prelovec at DeepSense as well as Laura’s STEM Connector mentor, Alexa Goodman from MEOPAR. You have moved us so far forward on our journeys and prepared us well for whatever comes next in our futures.
We were also lucky to experience peer-to-peer mentorship with each other and our fellow intern, Danielle Doucette. The three of us created space to explore our potential and learned so much from one another this summer.
Find Mentorship Through STEM Connector
Enter STEM Connector, a space where you can explore your potential, connect with community, and learn beyond your scope! DeepSense and SURGE Innovation have come together to create a mentoring program developed specifically with university and college STEM students in mind. Post-secondary school can be a time you may find your support network is reduced due to being in a new city or community, surrounded by new people, and studying new fields. However, it is also a time when you have a lot of questions and big decisions to make. Our hope for STEM Connector is to bridge the gap between university and work. To provide students who are curious about career paths access to industry professionals and researchers as well as peer-to-peer mentoring.
STEM Connector is a free flash mentorship program hosted online through MentorCity and is open to sciences, technology, engineering, and math students in college and university, as well as industry professionals, and researchers across Atlantic Canada. Flash mentorship is modern mentoring focused on time efficiency and convenience of knowledge sharing with multiple mentors and mentees with no long-term commitments. Mentees can meet with a mentor once or a couple of times for specific questions. In this type of mentorship, mentees can meet with someone who has experience and advice immediately applicable to their current situation.
Learning outside the classroom as an adult can feel a lot different than grade school as a child. It is helpful to understand adult learning is generally more engaging when it is self-directed and hands-on. Adult learners should set their own goals, challenge their perspectives, and apply new knowledge to real-world problems. This is the perfect setup for learning through mentorship!
Mentoring can be very personal and fill a lot of your time, so it is important to set and respect your boundaries. We encourage our members to honour how their energy is restored and to explore and expand their perspectives and community. We strive to be a welcoming, inclusive space where people can be themselves and celebrate the opportunities around us here in Atlantic Canada. We hope to see you online and in person.
STEM Connector Team Leads
Sarah Kilford and Laura Eamon
* Sources: Mentoring Statistics: The Research You Need to Know | Guider (guider-ai.com)