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Becoming a postdoctoral research fellow at a Harvard Medical School affiliate is exciting! Focusing on your science is a source of inspiration. You may, however, find yourself becoming isolated within your work. One way to address this issue is by seeking a secondary mentor and seeking collaboration outside of your lab. Boston and the Longwood Medical Area provide a wealth of opportunity for interacting with others and learning scientifically. This is important throughout your career, but you will recognize the importance when you are seeking letters of recommendation from faculty other than your PI. Don’t wait until you need those letters because you will end up writing them yourself. To the best of your ability, attend seminars and conferences, get to know the presenters and organizers, and network with others. (See the links below to find out about events in the area.) Once at these events, ask outside faculty members if they would be willing to meet with you, to serve as a secondary mentor.

Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – “Biology Week,” (View Calendar Online)

Focus, a biweekly journal of research news and happenings in the Harvard medical community, (Contact)

You may wish to use a document such as the attached Individual Development Plan (IDP) from FASEB to chart your career progress and use as a form for discussion with your PI and secondary mentor. The links below give information on mentoring that may be helpful to postdocs. 

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)'s Individual Development Plan (IDP) for Postdoctoral Fellows

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)'s Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors (Dec. 2006)

Sample Annual Review - IDP

Mentoring Science article, 1/27/2006

Nature's Guide for Mentors, 6/2007

Slides from Orfeu Buxton, PhD 2/27/2008 seminar: "Maximizing Career Development through Individual Development Plans and Peer Mentorship"

Slides from Vishal S. Vaidya, PhD, Instructor, Renal Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, presentation June 19, 2009

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