Suarez: In my opinion, the most common challenges are
overcommittment, unrealistic goals, lack of proper mentorship
and lack of protected time for scholarly activities. New faculty
members must learn that it is perfectly acceptable to say no to
activities that will not contribute to their academic advancement.
They also need to negotiate protected time for scholarly activities
prior to accepting a new position. New faculty should also know
their limitations and be aware of burnout symptoms. The latter
should be addressed immediately. They should notify their
mentors and division chair if they feel their career path is not
going in the right direction.
As an ICU director, what do you feel are the most important
ways to foster success in your young faculty?
Bleck: It’s most important to get to know each new faculty and
know their personal goals. Help direct them, foster their interests
and keep them focused. Senior faculty should provide professional
generosity like opportunities to write reviews, chapters or give
talks to boost their visibility. It is equally important to protect
them from mundane tasks. Keep them from overcommitting so
they can perform well in what they take on. Basically, promote
Rosand: Most important is to be certain that they are good fit
when you hire them. Have a vision of where they are headed and
be comfortable with that vision shifting as they develop their
interests and find their voice in the group and institution. Make
sure there are mentors around.
Suarez: It is important to assign mentors from the start and offer
a friendly and collegial atmosphere. It is our role to guide them
to establish cordial relationships with the other faculty members
and staff. It is also imperative to protect their time to dedicate
themselves to scholarly activities.
What kind of mentorship is important for young faculty to succeed?
Bleck: Find someone who will listen to what you want to do. Have
clear thoughts about your own career and draw upon people who
inspire you. Make your gratitude for the relationship known.
Bridging disciplines is becoming more important, so find mentors
both within and outside the division to bring new collaborations.
Rosand: Find a group of mentors you can trust, who have
experience at your institution and who work within disciplines
that are relevant to your own. NCS is helpful for junior faculty
members because so many people in the society have experienced
the same issues. Having a network of colleagues from different
institutions who are at your career stage can be crucial.
Suarez: One mentor is not sufficient. They should seek out at
least three. The goals and expectation of the mentor-mentee
relationship have to be very clearly stated from the beginning.
These people should be truly invested in the mentee’s future. They
have the mentee’s academic and personal futures as priorities
and support them in an altruistic manner. The primary mentor
should be someone senior with a record of successful mentoring
and excellent scholarly activity. The other mentors may perform
activities not directly related to the mentee’s career but can
provide guidance. The other advantage of multiple mentors is the
opportunity to balance the relationships. If the primary mentor
relationship turns toxic, mentees can seek advice from other
mentors. Mentees are free to break up a relationship if they feel
the mentor no longer prioritizes their interest, including not
meeting regularly, providing constructive feedback or becoming
direct competitors. In this case, the mentee should break free and
find new mentors to avoid pain and future disappointment.
Any parting words?
Bleck: Whatever you do, have fun with it or you won’t be able
to sustain it. Success requires forging something that didn’t exist
before. Take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
Rosand: Take work-life balance seriously to be happy, and work to
achieve it. Try to always be home for dinner when you have young
kids (you can always work after). Participating in family life keeps
you present, and those are precious years.
Never say yes immediately; think about it first.
Rather than using competing job offers, negotiate based on
understanding and demonstrating your value. Only bring a
competing offer to the table if you are seriously considering it.
Suarez: New faculty members should remain enthusiastic about
their future and keep their long-term goals in mind. This is not
about who gets there first but who gets there while accomplishing
all their goals.