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Mentoring and Early Career Development Workshop: Takeaways

1 June 2019 176 views No Comment
Elizabeth Mannshardt

    North Carolina Chapter workshop participants
    Photo Credit: Rick Scroggins, SAMSI

    The North Carolina Chapter of the ASA recently offered its first Mentoring and Early Career Development Workshop for students and early-career professionals. The one-day workshop was designed to provide a variety of viewpoints and considerations for developing professional statistical careers. It included mentoring in small-group settings and an opportunity to hear presentations from advanced career statisticians and a professional panel. Presenters and panelists discussed topics such as how to build your network for success and next steps for your career path, as well as types of careers statisticians can develop and how to best prepare yourself for the job market. Interactive sessions on goal-structuring and professional development were designed to engage participants.

    The professional panel included Artin Armagan (SAS), Heather Kopetskie (RhoWorld), Kelci Miclaus (JMP), and Kristen Foley (EPA). It was moderated by North Carolina Chapter 2018 Vice President Emily Griffith.

    Workshop Activities

    The workshop was designed to approach career development from different angles. Presentations from advanced career statisticians offered insights into topics such as how to be successful, best practices for presentations, promoting statistics, and building a career. A professional panel included moderated and audience questions. And speakers and panelists served as mentors during matched small-group mentoring sessions.

    Workshop organizers also developed a series of modules: Branding, Networking, Goal-Structuring, and The Imposter Syndrome. These were designed to take 15–20 minutes and were interspersed throughout the traditional presentations. Associated with each module were workbook activities that allowed participants to reflect on and consider career goals and advice gleaned throughout the workshop.

    Parallel tracks offered the opportunity for material targeted to different career stages. Break-out sessions for young professionals considered leadership and career next-steps as well as mentor versus sponsor, with student sessions on résumés and interviews and peer mentoring—a student initiative organized by the NC ASA Scholastic Council.

    2018 ASA President Lisa LaVange speaks to workshop participants.
    Photo Credit: Kisha Armstrong


    The schedule was designed to build on career development concepts introduced throughout the workshop while fostering engagement via different platforms. The minimal fee charged for the workshop covered meals, with further costs including the NC ASA dinner subsidized by NC ASA, ASA, and other sponsors. Details, including the schedule and workshop logistics, can be found on the NC ASA blog.

    The success of the workshop was due to the many volunteers. NC ASA Mentoring and Early Career Development Workshop mentors came from the NC ASA community. Bob Starbuck (Wyeth/USDA), Sonia (Davis) Thomas (RTI/UNC-CH), Richard Zink (TargetPharma), and David Banks (Duke/SAMSI) served as presenters. Panelists were Artin Armagan (SAS), Heather Kopetskie (RhoWorld), Kelci Miclaus (JMP), and Kristen Foley (EPA). Additional mentors included Emily Griffith (NCSU) and Ryne Vankrevelen (Elon), members of the NC ASA Board. Workshop participants also had the opportunity to talk with 2018 ASA President Lisa LaVange in a small-group setting.

    Future professional development events have been planned based on suggestions from participants. A mini workshop organized by graduate students at UNC Chapel Hill Biostatistics this fall will include the NC ASA career development modules and a professional panel.

    Organizer Takeaways

    Participants were excited and engaged. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of participants saying they would recommend a similar workshop to a friend or colleague. There is a clear need among students and young professionals in the statistics community for this type of event and an appreciation for opportunities to learn from established career professionals.

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