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"careerMe: New mentoring programme for postdocs and Career Track professors at the University of Erfurt

The University of Erfurt is committed to academic personnel development as one of its central fields of activity. In addition to university didactics, which are currently being expanded, it offers workshops and courses for the acquisition of key qualifications, as well as coaching opportunities, as part of its "Academic Career and Qualification Programme". With "careerMe", a new mentoring programme for postdocs and Career Track professors, another component has now been added. We spoke to Franziska Frank, who coordinates the programme...

Ms. Frank, why does the university need such a mentoring programme?
As a university, it is important to us to provide the best possible support to doctoral students, but also to postdocs and tenure-track professors in their career planning and especially on the path to a permanent professorship. We have been doing this for several years with coaching, lectures, workshops and advisory services. But the direct exchange with colleagues whose career path is already a little further advanced and who can share their own experiences is of particular importance. And we are now promoting this with "careerMe".

Tell us what happens in this programme, how it is structured...
The careerMe programme offers postdocs and Career Track professors the opportunity to be mentored by experienced professors for a year. Mentors offer ideal support in academic career planning. The personal relationship between mentor and mentee – i.e. one-to-one mentoring – is the focus of the programme. During the programme, the tandems will meet regularly. The basis for the relationship is a mentoring agreement, which is concluded at the joint kick-off event.

Why should I be involved – as a mentee or as a mentor?
The advantages for mentees are obvious: they are accompanied and strengthened during the challenging postdoctoral researcher phase and thus receive the best possible support in achieving their individual career goals. The programme also prepares them for leadership tasks and at the same time increases their chances of a career in research. And of course, the idea of networking also plays a role. In the best-case scenario, the programme can also lead to new contacts with people who are on a similar career path, or who can share their experiences from an earlier phase and give tips.
And as far as mentors are concerned, anyone who has experienced this kind of individual support themselves, for example, or who has been intensively supporting younger researchers for years, will appreciate the relevance of such opportunities and will therefore be happy to get involved as a mentor in the Graduate Service. In addition, in the context of this commitment, one also develops oneself further – for example, with regard to one's own advisory skills – and in the best case gains new impulses for one's own work. And here, too, networking plays an important role.

And what requirements do you have to fulfil to participate in the programme?
On the one hand, postdocs who have submitted at least their dissertation, who are affiliated with the University of Erfurt during the one-year programme period and who are able to participate in the events within the programme (in attendance) can register as mentees. On the other hand, the offer also applies to Career Track professors at the University of Erfurt. In both cases, the first requirement is to apply. We have prepared an online application form for this purpose. However, the application does not automatically lead to participation in the programme. On the one hand, enough mentors must have declared their willingness to participate in the programme, and on the other hand, the thematic and content-related ideas must match. Fortunately, many mentors have already agreed to participate this year, so that it should be possible for most mentees to take part in the programme.

And how do I find out whether I am a suitable mentee or mentor?
After receiving all applications and all profile sheets from the mentors, a detailed matching process takes place. The potential mentees' topic preferences and the topics in which the mentors can provide support are carefully matched to enable successful participation in the programme. The mentors are experienced professors who have held a professorship for at least three years and are interested in supporting postdocs or Career Track professors in their careers. After the matching process, all applications are informed whether a mentee or mentor has been found. And then it can already start...


Employee, a.o. Competence-Oriented Personnel Development for Academics
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