One of the key aims of the In2science Peer Mentoring Program is to foster and build connections between industry, universities, and schools. The Mentor Leaders Program (MLP) forms a major part of this goal. The MLP was initiated in the second half of 2021 and has run continuously since. In 2023, in only its third year, the MLP was bigger and better than ever! This is all thanks to the generous support of Toyota Community Trust. So, what did we achieve in the MLP this year?
The MLP kicked off in May with STEM Professionals and university mentors eagerly signing up to be part of the program. In 2023 we were able to match 15 STEM Professionals (the mentors) to In2science Leaders (the mentees). After some training, the pairs jumped straight into organising meetings to discuss a range of topics, such as pathways through university and into the workforce, interview strategies, networking tips, and applying for jobs. It has been great to see that not every meeting has focussed solely on career progression, with our participants also chatting about work-life balance, managing burnout, and the dreaded imposter syndrome! The In2science team have loved reading the feedback on these meetings and we are so pleased to see both mentors and mentees benefitting from the relationship.
On Tuesday October 3 the Mentor Leaders Program had its first ever catch up at the fantastic Royal Melbourne Hotel on Bourke Street. Despite the inclement weather, many of the program’s participants ventured out to enjoy the event. The evening kicked off with some drinks and canapes in the candlelit “Cells” room, which provided a spooky and fun atmosphere to catch up with the attendees. It was especially lovely to see our mentor/mentee pairs excitedly chatting together. Our guests were treated to a workshop hosted by Taylor and Eshita from Teach for Australia. The workshop, titled “Leading Self, Leading Others”, took the participants on an exploration of what it means to be a leader, and how being self-aware and understanding your own behaviours will help you to be a better leader of others. This was a fantastic event and we thank Teach for Australia for their input and expertise.
This year we had four STEM Professionals from Thermo Fisher Scientific participating in the MLP, and one of them, Jacqueline Saykao, organised for the paired mentees to experience a full day visit to the office in Scoresby. This was a brilliant initiative and it was eagerly taken up by the In2science Leaders. The attendees were treated to a tour of Thermo Fisher and learnt about different roles at the company. Elizabeth Thomas, Bachelor of Science student at The University of Melbourne and current In2science mentor, said, “I was very lucky to visit Thermo Fisher and learn about the company’s values. Each of our mentors presented and explained what their roles entailed and what a day in their life looked like. I found these talks very helpful to understanding what a career in STEM would be like and it also made me realise I am happy with my choice of study. We wrapped up the day with lunch at a local cafe, where we networked with other Thermo Fisher employees and Grad Program participants. Overall, I had a great visit and learned a lot more than I expected about one potential career in STEM.” In2science would like to thank Jacqueline and the team at Thermo Fisher for this fantastic opportunity. This is what the MLP is all about!
To wrap up this extraordinary year, on Thursday November 30, the MLP participants gathered at the beautiful Deakin Downtown to share stories and achievements. Katarina Persic, Community Foundations Coordinator at Toyota Australia, opened the event. We were then treated to a presentation by Thilanka Morawakage, Project Officer at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Thilanka spoke passionately about how her love for science began with visits to Questacon and CSIRO, and has led her to an exciting career in biomedicine with lots of opportunities to volunteer. A panel discussion with mentor/mentee pair Catherine Hart, Senior Sustainability and Environmental Specialist at Toyota Australia, and Veda Mileva, Bachelor of Biomedicine student at La Trobe University, followed. Moderated by In2science Program Coordinator Rachel Ella, the discussion highlighted how the program produces mutually beneficial relationships. Cat mentioned how inspiring it was to meet new people in the program and how it has helped her reflect on her own career pathway. Veda loved that she was able to achieve her goals of fine-tuning her CV and adding her personality into her cover letters. This event was the perfect way to wrap-up a very successful year of the Mentor Leaders Program.
The In2science Team have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the enthusiastic STEM Professionals that volunteered to take part in the MLP this year, and the exceptional group of university students that participated. We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Toyota Community Trust for their ongoing support. We hope the MLP will return in 2024 with even more matches and exciting events!