Developing a sense of belonging where graduate students feel accepted, valued, and included is a critical factor supporting their wellbeing and influences retention in academia. The topics and resources in this section cover more common situations and opportunities to promote mentees’ sense of belonging in graduate communities and academia
Rudeness can boost negative emotions and harm working relationships. Taking steps to avoid being rude and being able to respond to rudeness goes far to create a supportive and productive training environment.
- What to Do When Someone is Rude: Guide covering how to respond to rudeness and avoid being rude produced by BCM’s Ombuds
- Infographic: How to address Rudeness: Produced from BCM Ombuds’ guide What to Do When Someone Is Rude
Supporting Mentees with Self-Doubt
Graduate school and research frequently creates conditions where students experience self-doubt that can limit productivity and quality. Sharing relatable experiences and affirming students’ strengths may help them find ways of getting through difficult times.
- Mentoring Someone with Imposter Syndrome: Harvard Business Review article by W. Brad Johnson and David Smith
- Imposter Syndrome and Students of Color: Blog by Rebecca Grim on Claremont’s Graduate University website covering how students of color may experience situations that may lead to higher rates of imposter syndrome among them
Support Mentee’s Career Aspirations
Engage in discussions around research and career aspirations and work with students and trainees to develop their approach and skills to attain their goals.
- Honest, Open and Two-Way – Have HOT Career Conversations with your Graduate Students: Article in University Affairs listing tips addressing career conversations with graduate students.
- Yearly Planning Meetings: Individualized Development Plans Aren’t Just More Paperwork: Article in Molecular Cell discussing how one lab at Harvard Medical School uses the process around an IDP to support trainee development.
Support Development of Scientific Communication
There is a connection between strength in scientific communication and career intention in science. Work with mentees to develop scientific speaking and writing skills of mentees.
- English Communication for Scientists: Educational modules produced by Scitable from Nature Education.
- SCOARE Program: A workshop covering best practices and strategies for helping trainees develop their scientific speaking and writing skills. Offered once a year at BCM and through SCOARE (Scientific Communication Advances Research Excellence)
Share Insights into Expectations, Values, and Culture
Consider opportunities in one-on-one conversations to have discussions around your lab and research culture. Share knowledge about the campus environment, school and organization structure and operations, and academic expectations.
- Ten Simple Rules for Creating a Sense of Belonging In Your Research Group: Article in PLOS Computational Biology offering 10 practical approaches to support positive personal relationships in research teams.
- Mentoring Compacts: Information and resources from the National Academies; The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM on the use of compacts as a mentoring tool to help establish and share information regarding expectations.
- University of Michigan, Rackham Graduate School: Hidden Curriculum 101: Video recording of workshop discussing the unwritten and unspoken expectations and the implicit norms, values, and behaviors of graduate students and approaches on how to navigate them.
- A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum. Jessica McCrory Calarco, Princeton University Press, 2020 (Book)
Increase Your Awareness of The Potential Impact of Inequities On Student’s Experience
Consider how racial, gender, or socioeconomic inequities may affect students’ access to learning and training experiences, and intentionally develop approaches to reduce potential inequities.
- In academia, Lower Socioeconomic Status Hinders Sense of Belonging: Perspectives article in Science addressing recent research into socioeconomic status and effects on graduate students' sense of belonging.
- On Supporting Early-Career Black Scholars: Perspectives article in Nature Human Behavior offering suggestions on how the research community can support their black early-career researchers.