By Rachel Ella
At the end of 2022 we celebrated another successful year of the Mentor Leaders Program, made possible by the Toyota Community Trust, with a wrap up event at Toyota’s Corporate Offices in Port Melbourne. This program is designed to give In2science mentors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and mentoring skills the opportunity to be matched with STEM Professional Mentors and become In2science Leaders. The STEM Professionals provide mentorship to the In2science Leaders enabling them to gain insight into STEM career pathways and life after university. In 2022 we had 19 mentor/mentee pairs that met over a period of seven months and discussed an array of topics from how to stand out in a sea of graduates, to career planning and various pathways, to resume and interview tips and tricks, and everything in between!
Guests were welcomed and the event opened by Katarina Persic, Senior Community Foundation Coordinator at Toyota. We were treated to a fascinating presentation by Helen Tower, AS&T Senior Validation Specialist at CSL Seqirus. We learnt that, pre-COVID, the processes involved in developing and producing a vaccine were completed in a linear fashion and could take anywhere from 15-20 years due to lack of funding and scientific community focus. During COVID, the worldwide focus of scientists and increased amount government funding hastened this process, explaining why we were able to receive vaccines more quickly than was previously possible. It was a captivating presentation that answered many questions around the production of the COVID vaccines.
We then heard from one of our In2science Leaders, Jaidyn Gluskie, and his STEM Professional Mentor, Dennis Damsma, Studio Engineer & Milling Manager, Product Design and Product Planning & Development at Toyota Australia. Jaidyn and Dennis were one of our most successful pairings. Together they helped Jaidyn identify a true calling for the automotive engineering industry, born from an interest in motor racing, a passion they both share. Dennis’ mentoring helped Jaidyn build confidence in himself as a person and as a budding engineer which led to a six week internship in Dennis’ team at Toyota. They were both grateful for the opportunity provided by the MLP to work together, learn from each other, and build a successful mentoring relationship that will continue into the future.
Thank you to all our STEM Professional Mentors for volunteering your time to be part of the MLP and providing essential guidance to our In2science Leaders. Planning for the 2023 program is underway and more information will be released shortly. If you are keen to be involved, please reach out to Mentor Leaders Program Coordinator Rachel Ella.