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Comment: A different kind of mentoring

One-sentence mentoring is a unique initiative from the University of Cambridge, UK. It is inspiring us here in Copenhagen.

Experience shows that classic mentoring programs for young researchers may be difficult to get up and running in university environments. The challenges are many, such as; Difficulties in matching the mentor with a mentee, large resource consumption, high degree of support from management, etc.

With inspiration from the University of Cambridge, the University of Copenhagen via International Staff Mobility (ISM) is trying a new and different kind of mentoring concept for young researchers – the so-called One-Sentence Mentoring method.

One-Sentence Mentoring was initiated by the University of Cambridge’s Career Development Office for PhD students. Experiences from the university showed that Principal Investigators (PIs) are one of the most significant individuals in shaping the future career of new researchers. Therefore, in 2011 the university launched a new and exciting initiative, One-Sentence Mentoring, which aims at bridging the advice gap between PIs and new researchers.

One-sentence mentoring at UCPH

Inspired by the short and precise form of communication from, e.g. one-sentence book reviews, social media, tweets, blogs and text messages, Principal Investigators (PIs) were asked to submit a single sentence with advice around a single question: ”What advice would you give to a postdoc looking to make it in academia?” The answer to this question gave many good and interesting advices that have been disseminated to new researchers.

The concept of One-Sentence Mentoring was introduced at the University of Copenhagen as an ”ice breaker”, which sparked conversations around the tables at the Professors’ Symposium and Dinner on 29 January 2015, where 300 professors were invited.

On a card they were asked to give their advice in only one sentence based on the question: ”If I were to give you one good advice on how to make it in academia, it would be…”

Advice list

We have received more than 200 testimonials that contain interesting and insightful One-Sentence Mentoring advices. These interesting statements and clear messages contain multiple pieces of advice and have great inspiration value for ”junior scientists”, who wish to pursue a career in academia.

Here is the full list of all the testimonials (some are in Danish, but most are in English).

Be inspired!

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