Finding and using mentors
It is very useful to discuss professional development with mentors. Often, a laboratory chief or primary investigator is a default mentor. However, mentors can also be peers and collaborators from within or outside your institute.
Seeking outside mentors can be beneficial, because there is less fear of crossing a line that may affect daily work.
In addition, being a mentor can be quite fruitful in that it may force self reflection, deepen your knowledge, help build leadership skills, establish valuable professional relationships and provide a sense of gratification from contributing to someone’s advancement.
Taking this even a step further, it is essential to network. Participating in committees, attending and presenting at conferences, and forging collaborations are all avenues for networking. The ability clearly to delineate your work and interests is very important, and the ability to break past shyness or reservations and ask questions about others’ work and interests is very rewarding.
In my experience, many scientists love to talk about their work and interests and are flattered by inquiries. Opening up communications can be a great self-confidence builder and can establish important relationships.