I just read this post on TenureSheWrote (great blog by the way!) titled “It takes a village to mentor an academic”. I think that is very true and I think the biggest lesson I have learned during my post-doc is to go out and find your own team of mentors. During my PhD I didn’t realize that yet, and I thought that you had to work with what you were given, which in my case was someone I sometimes hated and sometimes liked. During my post-doc, the first time I gave my PI a grant to read and he said:”Looks great, I think you’ll get it” I thought that was a really nice comment and very helpful of hir. However, when I didn’t get said grant, I realized that next time I may want to ask more people to look at it, which is what I did.
However, not just for reading-purposes was it useful to sometimes be bold and ask people for advice, also for things like career advice, advice on where to go next with experiments and advice on how to deal with other people in the lab. At first I felt awkward asking people to help me out with no obvious benefit to them, but in the past couple of years I have become more confident in asking others for their input and advice. And I try to pay back by helping out others who come to me asking for advice or whether I want to proofread something. Where papers are the currency of science, mentoring seems the karma of science.
Did you find your own team of mentors and how do you feel about asking other people for advice and guidance?