Career matchmaking

Career Matchmaking

First speed mentoring event pairs HSC faculty with mentors for career advice

By Melanie Stawicki Azam

College of Public Health and Health Professions Dean Michael Perri talks with College of Medicine faculty member Yi Zhang during the Speed Mentoring event in July./Photo by Jesse S. Jones.

Franci Stavropoulos, D.D.S., an associate professor at UF’s College of Dentistry, was poised to make a big career move and wanted some advice.

“I’m on the verge of submitting my packet for promotion to full professor,” she said.

Luckily, Stavropoulos, who wanted an assessment of her packet’s strengths and weaknesses, had access to about two dozen UF Health Science Center mentors at the first Speed Mentoring event, held July 18. Stavropoulos was one of about 15 mentees who got to speak one-on-one with senior Health Science Center faculty, researchers and college administrators about everything from promotion and tenure to keeping a healthy work/life balance.

Sponsored by the College of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development and the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs Office of Equity and Diversity as part of a faculty development series, the event was open to faculty and postdoctoral fellows from all six colleges. Mentors included deans, department chairs and other senior Health Science Center leaders.

Rebecca Pauly, M.D., associate vice president for health affairs, equity and diversity, said research has shown how important and beneficial mentoring can be to both the mentee and mentor, and she wanted to promote the idea at the Health Science Center.

“Sometimes people are reluctant to ask for help,” said Pauly, who helped organize the event. “This is kind of a fun way to create those pairings.”

The event was aimed at helping junior faculty, but the invitation was extended to include fellows as well. Mentees spent seven minutes talking one-on-one with each mentor. Each mentee met with a total of four mentors, who specialized in everything from research to leadership.

Anne Engeman, Ph.D., a pediatric neurology postdoctoral researcher in the College of Medicine, said she was eager to get career advice about making the transition from working as a postdoctoral researcher to a becoming a faculty member.

“This has been helpful,” Engeman said. “I’ve gotten a lot of advice for what to put on a CV, what a faculty search committee looks for, and work-life balance, because I have a 2-year old child.”

Mentors also thought the event was a good way to offer guidance to new faculty members, introduce them to senior leadership and familiarize them with some of the resources and projects at the Health Science Center.

“I thought it was really clever and unique, and I thought maybe we’d try it at our college,” said Teresa A. Dolan, D.D.S., M.P.H., dean of the UF College of Dentistry and one of the event’s mentors.

Pauly said common themes mentors heard and what mentees took away from the event were collected, so organizers could see how they could adjust or improve future events.

Yvonne Bokrand-Donatelli, Ph.D., a College of Dentistry postdoctoral scholar, said she left the event with solid advice about publishing her work and reaching her career goals.

“They’ve tried to encourage me to believe in myself,” she said.