March 16, 2018
Did you apply yourself?
Yes, I did it myself. I found the information on the training on the University website. I had already learnt about the program about a year ago when I applied the first time it was held. I was unlucky, though, and my first submission was rejected. I guess that every scholar at the university has, at one point, weighed their wins and losses. In my case only about 10% initiatives succeed the first time. So I decided to send my application again. This year I’ve made it and the success tastes even better as there were 330 applicants from the whole Poland and only 40 were selected. The program itself has a very interesting form because every participant will take part in individual mentoring (weekly meetings for at least an hour), training sessions whose task is to develop interpersonal skills, for example self-management in time, and the Team Project, whose aim is to solve some social problems we come up with within project groups we have been assigned to by the organizers.
What is the mentor supposed to help you with?
The mentor’s task is to help me carry out my goals regarding my professional future. During our meeting we decided to first evaluate my scientific output so far and then analyse all the pros and cons of working at a university and in business, and in a situation when the university work and business are somehow combined.
Did you choose the mentor yourself or was it the mentors who selected people they wanted to work with?
Already at the registration stage, I had to submit three mentors I would potentially like to cooperate with. However, the last word belonged to the mentors. One of the three people I mentioned in my application was Michał Maciejewski – a graduate of Automation and Robotics at the Łódź University of Technology, who is currently working at CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research. And he agreed to guide me.
What can a CERN scientist teach you?
As I mentioned earlier, the main goal of working with a mentor is planning my career path. Mr Maciejewski is supposed to help me with that. I think that during the meetings we will discuss the topics concerning scholarships, grants and foreign travel. When it comes to business work, my mentor assured me that he will be glad to share his knowledge and skills regarding negotiating, management, communication, image building or presentation.
Any comments after your first meeting with the mentor?
I’ve had two meetings and my impressions are very positive. My mentor has been really motivating. He is very sincere and straightforward, and praises all good things I’ve done e.g. in my doctorate. I admit that when I was going to my first meeting, I thought it would be some sort of coaching. I’d even cry a little bit in his sleeve and he will listen and of course tell me what to do. However, this mentoring is more about getting tips than having a decision made for you. My mentor may show me the pros and cons of each solution but will not tell me “do this or that.” The final decision will be up to me.
And what will this decision be: science, business or the combination of the two?
I’d like to combine science with business. We have initially analysed my scientific achievements. We haven’t yet analysed advantages or disadvantages of my going into science only or business only but we have to examine thoroughly three possible roads – only University, only business or both. To me, the third option seems to be the most interesting one.
When you were applying, did anything surprise you?
The questions. They thoroughly checked our predispositions, weaknesses and strengths. I had to describe, for example, my biggest problems while working in a group and if I managed to solve these problems. I had to say what my greatest success was and why, if I helped anyone else to solve a problem, what my approach to failures is. Later, at the first meeting in Warsaw, we joked that all forty of us are very similar to one another. When we met in the hotel, it felt like we had known one another well.
The TopMinds mentoring training is organized by the TOP500 innovators and the Fulbright Fund. The programme is supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the US embassy in Warsaw, Collegium Wratislaviense, and Bury & Bury Patent Office Ltd.