Here at Adaptive we understand that fostering an empowering environment for future STEM leaders through rich mentoring opportunities will be key to enabling them to find their own professional paths later in life.
In March, Adaptive hosted a Field Day for young women in the Stem Path Innovations Network (SPIN) Girl’s program. Meghan Y., Sr. Marketing Specialist, sat down with Nina H., Director of Molecular Product Development at Adaptive, and Prachi S., SPIN Girls Fellow, to talk about the role of mentorship in their lives.
M: Why does mentorship matter to both of you, and to the field at large?
Nina: It’s never too early to start learning the behaviors we need to succeed at a high level, and mentorship gives you access to that information. As mentors we are coaches, role models, cheerleaders, older siblings, and teachers – sometimes all at once.
A good mentor cares about the success of others and enables everyone to rise. Mentors can help us navigate through stages and phases of life, leaving us more time and energy to make new discoveries. They can also be role models and individuals we aspire to be.
Prachi: Mentorship matters to me because my mentors provide me with support, advice, and feedback on things in my life that are important to me. They are always looking out for my best interest and offer new perspectives on situations in my life. One thing I have learned from my mentor is to not wait for opportunities to come to you, and instead step out of your comfort zone to find opportunities that interest you. I try to do this in my life when it comes to academic or professional opportunities I hope to find.
M: What inspires you both about the young women of SPIN?
Nina: I’m in awe of their persistence, commitment, and grit. To me, grit is the difference between giving up and tackling a problem head on. These young women have already displayed grit and will bring so much to the table in their careers – what they need is a helping hand and opportunities to gain perspective and overcome challenges. Put plainly: resources, people, information. I can’t wait to see what they do when they finish their programs and influence the world.
Prachi: My fellow SPIN girls are the most motivated and inspirational women I interact with regularly. Along with being my friends, I would consider them “peer-mentors” because they are always willing to help you out to the best of their ability. Despite all of us pursuing very different career paths within STEM, I can learn many things from them and be inspired by their initiative. From finding research opportunities to interning at a hospital, the initiative they show to learn more about their future careers encourages me to take similar steps for my own future.
M: Nina, what’s the best advice you received early on in your career, and what advice do you have to offer women of all ages looking to pursue a career in STEM?
Nina: If it makes sense to you it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Follow your passion.
When it comes to pursuing a career in STEM, my advice is to take the hard classes and internalize underlying key concepts in various disciplines. Even if you do not use the hard-earned knowledge in the everyday part of your job, having the range to operate comfortably in them can really pay off. For example, overseeing mainly laboratory research projects does not require me being an expert in bioinformatics, but having taken computer science classes and dabbled in code writing in my STEM career makes me a better partner on cross-functional lab and computational projects
M: Prachi, when you look ahead, what do you hope to be doing within the field and how do you want the field to look?
Prachi: As I look ahead, I see myself using computer science to improve connectivity, efficiency, and equity in our world. I hope to work side-by-side with diverse people to create technology that makes the lives of everyone better and easier. I know there are not enough women and people of color in this field, and I hope to see more diversity in the future. To say that computer science is powerful would be an understatement because I believe this field has the power to change the future for the better.
M: Nina, do you have any advice for new mentors who are just starting their mentorship journey?
Nina: You have so much to offer to the next cohort of scientists and you will feel so rewarded doing it. Go for it. Now.
To learn more about SPIN Girls, visit their website: https://www.stempaths.org/