Mentor, Supervisor or Both?

This week, we issued a call for nominations for the Inaugural Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor and Outstanding Postdoctoral Supervisor Awards. Why is it important to make this distinction? Aren’t they one in the same?

I’m glad you asked.

It is true that many direct supervisors are more than just a “boss.” They may take an active role in ensuring the success and professional development of their postdocs, in addition to ensuring that research objectives are met and deliverables delivered. You joined your supervisor’s group for a reason. Likely, you had a keen interest in the research and saw him or her as someone who would help you grow as a scientist or engineer.

But does that mean your supervisor is your only source of advice, guidance or feedback? No. We often have many mentors throughout our lives. For starters, the Postdoctoral Mentoring Program seeks to pair postdocs with third-party mentors to provide a robust experience.

You might have found others in your division or across the laboratory who have proved to be excellent mentors. Maybe there is a scientist or engineer who has guided you through your experiments–from design to publication. Maybe there is a staff member who regularly offers you advice or discusses career paths with you. Maybe you have peers who have been essential to your success and happiness throughout your appointment.

Mentors enter our lives in a variety of ways at various times. Open your mind to the community around you and consider how your relationships have helped you grow as a professional and as an individual.

The call for nominations has several key considerations of what being an outstanding mentor or supervisor might entail. Take a look and if you know someone who fits those criteria, submit you nomination by September 27, 2013.

About Kristene Henne

Kristene “Tina” Henne is Argonne’s Postdoctoral Program Lead for the Argonne Leadership Institute. In this role, she facilitates the postdoc appointment process, postdoc career development, mentoring, advises the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne and serves as a navigator for postdoctoral issues.
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