Mentoring for postdoctoral researchers

You work hard, but are you unsure where your career is heading? Do you feel you are at a career turning point? You have academic ambitions, but you do not know how to play the game? Are you considering switching to a career outside academia? 
If so, mentoring can help you out.

MenTa & MenZa is Ghent University's in-house mentoring programme committed to helping postdoctoral researchers to improve their skills and advance their academic or non-academic career. Mentors are experienced Ghent University professors or PhD degree holders working beyond academe.

What is mentoring?

"Mentoring is an interpersonal activity to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be" (Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring)

The aim of mentoring is to assist you in preparing and planning your future career options in or beyond academe.

The primary focus is on building relationships, sharing experiences, boosting the competencies and confidence of the mentee, finding network opportunities ...

A mentor serves as a sounding board for the mentee's questions.

  • Development approach: encourage people to think more carefully about their personal ambitions and professional goals
  • Person-centered: one-to-one supportive relationship
  • Confidential: based on mutual trust (all information shared is kept confidential) and respect
  • Mentee-driven: the mentee takes the initiative and sets the agenda

Who are the mentees?

  • Postdoctoral researchers with solid career ambitions from all faculties and disciplines.
  • The maximum number of mentees admitted to the programme depends directly on the number of available mentors.
  • Priority will be given to those clearly explaining their reasons for participating in their motivation statement and to postdoctoral researchers employed on non-renewable fixed-term contracts.
"Ik heb door mentoring een belangrijke keuze omtrent mijn loopbaan eindelijk genomen. Ik heb tips van mijn mentor omtrent zichtbaarheid, CV en toekomststrategie reeds toegepast"
"Ik ben niet alleen onderzoeker, maar ook moeder van twee kinderen en de combinatie van werk en gezin blijft een precaire evenwichtsoefening. Ik doe mijn job ontzettend graag, maar het zou fijn zijn te horen hoe iemand anders omgaat met de moeilijke kanten van ons vak"
“I understood better the different ways I can combine work and life. I also got more confidence in applying for jobs and performing at interviews.”
“I am extremely satisfied with the match and enjoyed each and every contact with my mentor. In fact, we are still in contact.”

Who are the mentors

A mentor is a guide and advisor fully committed to helping a mentee find solutions to different career challenges. Precisely because they have wide professional experience, mentors have an outstanding ability to empathize with the concerns facing today’s postdoctoral researchers.

  • A professorial staff member at Ghent University with a minimum of 5 years experience. This mentor can have a strong academic focus and/or intersectoral focus (e.g. through networks with industry, government, non-government)
  • A PhD degree holder working beyond academe. The mentors come from an array of sectors including private and not-for-profit sectors, government and non-governmental organizations, public policy, industry, etc. They are former (post)doctoral researchers who have become successful leaders in diverse fields.
  • A positive role model, enthusiastic, empathic, good listener
  • A mentor inspires and empowers the mentee to reach his/her full potential
  • A Ghent University mentor has no hierarchical relation with the mentee (different faculty than mentee's, but relevant research field of profile)
“Ik ben zelf destijds zeer goed begeleid in mijn onderzoeksgroep en wil dat nu ook kunnen doen voor anderen”
“Ik doe dit nu voor het derde jaar op rij en blijf het een waardevol project vinden. Ik vind het zinvol en bijzonder aangenaam om jonge mensen te coachen en ervaringen over te brengen en te helpen waar ik kan”
“Ik had zelf te weinig begeleiding gekregen en wou het voor de volgende generatie beter doen”
“Great to be able to transmit experience and exchange ideas and concepts with promising, aspiring academics. Always a pleasure to converse with the mentees, and it is motivating to motivate someone else”
“To guide others in the written, but often unwritten rules of academic life as a professor. And to listen to and give some advice on their career decisions and situations”

How to register?

Subscriptions for the current mentoring year 2020-21 are now open.

The mentoring programme will start in October 2020 (training & matching). Actual meetings with your mentor will take place between January and December 2021.

Selected for MenTa & MenZa? And then?

  • As soon as the selected mentees have been matched with their mentors (by the project team), a first meeting can be scheduled. Mentees are expected to do this at the latest by the end of January 2021.
  • We recommend to have 4-6 meetings throughout the mentoring year.
  • Apart from the 1-to-1 meetings, mentors and mentees will be invited to a series of activities and workshops. Watch out for our calendar of events, which will soon be updated!

Calendar of events

  • 12, 19 or 23 November 2020: half day mandatory workshop for mentees
  • End of March 2021: interuniversity Virtual Job Market for Young Researchers

Some background

MenZa (“Mentoring towards ZAP”) was launched in 2009 by the Diversity and Gender Policy Unit in order to support female postdocs in their career path and a transition to professorship.

Since 2011 the programme is open to all (female and male) postdocs. Since 2014 MenZa has been part of Ghent University's Postdoc Talent Management, run by the Department of Personnel & Organization (Career Development Office).

In 2012 MenZa was complemented with MenTa, a mentoring track for postdocs to explore a non-academic career.

Since 2018 the two tracks (MenZa and MenTa) are merged in one programme.

7 tips on mentoring

Read our tips on the role of the mentor, do’s and don’ts and on how to organize meetings:

Tips on mentoring [NL] [ENG]

Interesting reading




Nel Grillaert (Career Development Office)

Katrien De Gelder (Doctoral Schools Office)