What is the best piece of advice you’ve received during your research career?
Two pieces of advice immediately come to mind.
First, write every day. This is a hard thing to do, but it is important. I put it on my calendar. Some days it is only 10-15 minutes, whereas other days I have more time to devote to writing.
Second, consider your time. When you are presented with a new task, you need to consider how this fits in with your commitments. You may need to give up something to be able to take advantage of the new opportunity. When someone who is in power asks me to take on a new task, I have begun asking this person “What should I give up to fit in this work?” This shows that you are willing to be of service but acknowledges your time limitations. It doesn’t always work as a strategy, but you may be surprised how often people are willing to help you think of solutions.
This leads us to ask…how do you evaluate what to say no to?
It is important for you to think about your goals and what you need to do to reach those goals. I have my goals written down and posted in my office, so they are always visible to me. For instance, if your goal is to be promoted or achieve tenure, then your goals should be tied to those expectations. I have seen junior colleagues and graduate students capitalize on the wrong opportunities because they have not carefully considered their goals. I have also had junior colleagues tell me no to collaborations because those opportunities are not tied to their personal goals and as such, don’t fit into their schedules at the time. I admire this because it shows they are thoughtful and responsible about their commitments. Of course, it is also important to consider your family and social responsibilities.
What are some of your lessons learned that you think are important for early and mid-career women to know?
I encourage them to find multiple mentors, including a female mentor. It is really important to have the perspective of a woman. Additionally hook into university and professional organization networks. My primary professional organization, ASHA, has wonderful opportunities to connect early career individuals with mentors. Additionally, these networks can serve a key role in advocating for equity, such as promotion/tenure extensions for family care and clarity in bylaws. Women are not asking for things to be easier, but for equitable treatment. It all goes to the community good.
They can also look for mentors at other universities. I think this provides a broadening perspective about how others do things.
How can institutions support mentoring relationships?
New faculty may not feel comfortable initiating mentoring relationships or may not understand these relationships are important. They may think that asking for a mentor is a sign of weakness. My institution does several things that support mentoring relationships. We explicitly state that new faculty should find a mentor. The mentor and mentee also go through joint training together provided by the university. Additionally, the mentor receives service credit for being a mentor.
What do you consider when mentoring doctoral students?
When doctoral students have strong social connections, such as with their advisor and their peers, they are more likely to complete their degree. I create opportunities for those social connections in group situations. At the same time, as a faculty member, we have to remember the power differential and be thoughtful in establishing boundaries. For examples, I do not interact with students on social media.
I’ve also recently learned that I don’t have to be the primary source of mentoring at all times for my doctoral students. Sometimes students react more positively to a different voice. Connecting students to other faculty members for mentoring can be very beneficial for students.
What do you think are the keys to collaborating well with other researchers?
It’s important to have those hard conversations about processes, such as authorship or how you will settle differences in opinions. It also helps if you build personal connections with your collaborators. That way when challenges arise, you trust each other and can rely on your personal relationship to help you navigate through the situation at hand.
How do you manage your time daily and on a broader level?
Time management doesn’t just happen. You need a plan You need to prioritize your tasks, so it is important to have short and long term goals. People may use different tools, like Slack or online calendars, to organize their time. Don’t get caught up in the tool. Find the one that works for you.
It’s also important to consider your family-work balance. Just like I allocate time to work tasks, I also allocate time to spend with my family and travel.
How do you stay motivated over the duration of your career?
I keep a project always on the horizon. Something that I am not actively engaging in but something that I am exploring and talking to others about. This way all your eggs are not in one basket, and you have something to be excited about. I also think that working with junior faculty and colleagues outside of your discipline keep work rewarding.
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