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It seems to me it would be better to match these mentees up with people who work in other areas, rather than not match them up at all. I think most of job market mentoring is the same regardless of area anyway. How to write a good cover letter, teaching statement, how to do well in interviews, etc. These seem to be general skills where the same advice applies to most. Besides, persons on committees will not all be from the candidates area, so it is important that job materials be understood by someone in any area. In this respect it seems preferable to match a mentee with a mentor outside their AOS. (I think those on the European and UK market are different, and they do need a special mentor.)

Marcus Arvan

Hi Amanda: Thanks for the feedback. We are indeed pursuing matches of all sorts--and are currently looking at matches between people with different AOSs. However, one issue we do face is with the willingness of mentors to work with people with excessively different AOSs (remember, mentors are volunteering their time!). We have had some mentors say explicitly that they strongly prefer to work with mentees in areas similar to theirs.

As someone who has mentored several people myself, I can say that it takes a *great* deal more time and effort to understand a person's research statement, writing sample, etc., if they work in an area one is totally unfamiliar with. On a similar, I also suspect that if I don't understand their AOS very well, it can be very difficult to help--as again, it can be difficult to help someone improve their research statement, etc., if you are completely new to the research area.

In any case, we are thinking about these issues carefully and intend to make as many matches as we can regardless of AOS similarities!


Thanks for explaining Marcus. FWIW, I applied to over 60 jobs last year, both research and teaching, and very few (maybe 5) asked for research statements. I think that is becoming a thing of the past, and one is expected to say a few words about their research in their cover letter instead. And yes, if a mentor reads the writing sample that would be hard outside of the AOS. But I participated in the women's mentoring program and my mentor did not read my writing sample. We went over a lot of other stuff like cover letter and interview tactics, CV, etc.

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