Stacie Bloom on How to Be a Better Mentor

In Chapter 11 of 18 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, Neuroscience Institute Executive Director Stacie Grossman Bloom answers "What Do You Find To Be the Most Important Elements of a Mentorship Experience?"  Bloom shares how mentors have shaped her non-traditional science career outside the laboratory.  She notes the importance of respect, trust, open communication, selflessness, and dedication to your personal network and knowledge development.  She also makes it clear a good mentor does not necessarily need to dedicate a large amount of time to the relationship; rather it just needs to be focused and dedicated. 

Stacie Grossman Bloom is Executive Director for the Neuroscience Institute at the NYU Langone Medical Center.  Previously, she was VP and Scientific Director at the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) and, before that, held editorial roles at the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Nature Medicine.  She earned her BA in chemistry and psychology from the University of Delaware, her PhD in Neurobiology and Cell Biology at Georgetown University and did post-doctoral training in Paul Greengard's Nobel Laboratory of Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience at Rockefeller University.


Erik Michielsen:  What do you find to be the most important elements of a mentorship experience?

Stacie Grossman Bloom:  You know I think a relationship with a mentor is really important. For me, it was really key in helping to shape my career, I try really hard to be a good mentor, in particular to people with PhD’s who are looking for careers outside of the laboratory, so outside of that very traditional career path. And I’ve hired a lot of those kinds of individuals and they’ve gone on to do amazing things. I think a lot of communication, open communication, having a mentor who you really respect and trust is really important, someone who’s really selflessly being helpful to you and not undermining you. And I think someone who can help you build your network, someone who will take you to places where you can meet people who may be able to help you in your career. I really think of a relationship with a mentor as being like a lifelong relationship.

Erik Michielsen:  And how do you set aside time to be a mentor? 

Stacie Grossman Bloom:  I don’t think it takes a lot of time to be a mentor. I don’t necessarily say, okay, today I’m gonna set aside an hour of my time to being a mentor, but I get contacted by a lot of people. I’ve spoken at a lot of conferences and I’m invited to give talks at a lot of universities about my career, and afterwards I’m contacted a lot. I also have hired a lot of PhD scientists who have worked for me and I’ve spent a lot of time with those individuals. I don’t think that you necessarily need to set aside time, but I do think that it’s really important to take the time to help people like that, so I get a lot of cold calls, I get a lot of emails, I’m always trying to respond, if I can’t respond to an email directly then I usually ask someone who’s worked with me or -- and for me, to help me and maybe they can step up and be a mentor to that individual. I think it’s very hard to field all the calls and all the emails but I do try to make an effort to get back to everybody. Because I think my career path has been unique and I think that it’s a really—that it’s a career path that a lot of people could pursue, I don’t think that I’m so special, but I think knowing how to do it and how to navigate it is really important.