January 16, 2020

Mentors Have The Power To Shape Your Life: AGU Interns Share Their Experiences for Thank Your Mentor Month

Posted by AGU Career Center

January is Thank Your Mentor Month and we wanted to highlight some of the personal mentorship experiences from two of our AGU interns, Christina Martinez and Perri Silverhart.


I was fortunate to meet my mentor this past June during SAGE (Summer of Applied Geophysical Experience). I was on the verge of completing my undergraduate degree and she had just finished defending her PhD. I met Andy Crieghton when I was a TA and she was my go-to for any situations or questions that could occur. Thankfully, she is still playing that role today. What started as a friendship turned into an unofficial mentorship. From emails to CVs, she has reviewed everything of mine, and I am so grateful to have her support. Andy has answered any questions I have had and has been available to me whenever I have needed her. A quality mentor provides a story and a perspective that helps shape your life, and I know I would not be in this position today without mine.


Perri Silverhart and mentor Pat Manley

Perri Silverhart and mentor Pat Manley

Similarly, I was lucky enough to meet my mentor, Professor Pat Manley, during my introductory geology course at Middlebury College. In addition to taking classes and writing my undergraduate thesis with her, she has advocated for me in countless ways, selflessly shared insight that she has learned throughout her career and pushed me to achieve beyond the limits that I impose on myself. We have remained in close contact since I graduated, and she continues to provide advice and help me expand my network. Pat has shown me firsthand the power of mentorship, and this is something that I now feel strongly about carrying with me and paying forward as I gain experience and build new relationships.

Mentoring comes in several forms and during my time as a graduate student at Penn State, I ran a mentoring program through the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) which paired undergraduate students in the Geoscience department with graduate student mentors. These two student populations exist in the same space but don’t often interact beyond the TA-student relationship, and this program provides a platform for students to build real relationships, get to know one another, and learn from each other. Through this formalized mentor/mentee relationship, undergraduate students were given a resource to ask questions and seek advice on selecting courses, finding research opportunities, applying to graduate school, and so much more.

Often a professional connection can organically grow into a mentoring relationship. However, not everyone has someone in their professional network they feel they can rely on and it is important for formal mentoring programs to connect students with mentors they may not have otherwise met.

Formalized mentoring programs are a great way to create meaningful connections and expand your network. The Mentoring365 program, a collaboration between AGU, AMS, AWG, IRIS, and SEG, is a great way to find a mentor regardless of where in the world you are located. The virtual mentoring program connects students and early career scientists with mentors based on the professional skills they are looking to gain. Individuals interested in becoming either a mentor or a mentee can fill out an online application and mentees will be able to select their mentor from an online database based on expertise and shared interests. Once matched, mentors and mentees will communicate regularly for a period of three months and will have access to resources and discussion topics to guide conversations.

For more mentoring resources and opportunities to get a mentor, check out the AGU Learn and Develop Mentoring website. There, you can learn more about the Mentoring365 program as well as the AGU Mentoring Network.

Christina Martinez and Perri Silverhart are the Winter 2020 AGU Talent Pool Interns.