Career Accelerator: Mentors & Mentees

SBME’s Career Accelerator:

Welcome Mentors & Mentees

You’ll find everything you need to know to participate in our new mentorship program.

Hello, Mentors & Mentees

On behalf of the School of Biomedical Engineering (SMBE), we’re extending a warm welcome to to all mentors and mentees. We believe the SBME Career Accelerator program will set our students on the path to success by providing a mentorship platform for students to gain valuable career insights and build a professional network.

Quick Links

Program Overview

SBME’s Career Accelerator

Launched in partnership with STEMCELL Technologies and Advice to a Scientist in 2022, SBME’s Career Accelerator offers mentorship opportunities for our graduate students as they identify possible career options and learn how to transition into those careers following training.

Individual Development Plans

SBME’s Career Accelerator uses an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to identify mentors and match students. An IDP is a tool that supports trainees prepare for the career of their choice by establishing career goals and identifying skill gaps. Through the IDP, mentors are matched with students whose career goals are a good fit.

Through the initial IDP, students will have the opportunity for self-evaluation and reflection, and together with their mentor, will develop an action plan to track goals and progress. The IDP will also serve as a communication tool, enabling both parties to set expectations and training outcomes.

For more information about IDP’s, please visit CIHR’s IDP Resource website.

Program Timeline & Deliverable

Welcome Orientation

Career Accelerator Welcome Orientation!

SBME will be hosting an Orientation and Program Kick-off event for matched mentee and mentor pairs. This social event will be delivered in partnership with Advice to A Scientist.

WHEN: February 1st, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

WHERE: Online

IDP Review & Goal Setting

During your second meeting, please review and discuss the mentees Individual Development Plan (IDP). This will involve an insightful discussion between the mentor and student. This discussion will help the student to set goals and develop plans towards their career(s) of choice.

WHEN: January 2024

RESOURCES: For more information about IDP’s, please visit CIHR’s IDP Resource website.

Exploring Science Database – First Interview

Objective: Understand and document your mentor’s career and personal journey.

Use of Information: Contribute to the “Exploring Science” database, providing a holistic view of STEM career trajectories.

Outcome: A comprehensive, empathetic, and inspiring account of your mentor’s journey to guide and motivate the STEM community.

When: Initial Mentor Interview – January/February

Instructions: Please submit your completed tables as .xls files to to Jennifer Ma at AtaS ( using the subject line “AtaS Exploring Science SBME-STEMCELL partnership”. Please also cc Nika Shakiba (

Please submit by March 15th, 2024


IDP Plan & Development

Insights from the IDP in Steps 1, 2, and 3, and your initial discussion can be used to prepare a plan. Ensure that both goals and objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).

WHEN: February

RESOURCES: Please use CIHR’s IDP plan development template to set goals and objectives for Step 4. Questions to help you outline a plan of action can be found in the Mentor guidebook, or on CIHR’s website.

Plan Refinement & Implementation

Plan refinement involves a discussion between the mentor and mentee about the student, their IDP and the goals and objectives outlined in the IDP, with the aim to improve it. The IDP is a living document and can be revised multiple times as required. Review and revision are essential to implementing an effective IDP. As this discussion moves the IDP from the development phase to the implementation phase, the conversation can assure that expectations are clear, the goals and objectives are SMART and that the student and mentor have a shared understanding of the plan and are committed to the plan.

WHEN: February to April


One or two weeks prior to your meeting:

1. Trainee will provide a copy of their IDP for review and prepare questions for their mentor.

2. Mentors can use the template IDP plan refinement & implementation sections (Steps 4 & 5) to provide insights, and any useful resource and/or network that can help refine the plan.

RESOURCES: Please use CIHR’s IDP plan development template to set goals and objectives for Step 5. Questions to help you outline a plan of action can be found in the Mentor guidebook, or on CIHR’s website.

Program Evaluation

At the end of the program, mentors and mentees will review the IDP, reflect on outcomes and evaluate success based on the goals laid out in the IDP. Mentees will be asked to complete a final report (max 500 words), to reflect on their experiences and discuss how the program contributed to their research and career goals. In addition, the mentee-mentor pair will be asked to fill out a program evaluation survey. Survey results will help organizers evaluate and improve the mentorship program.

WHEN: Due May 13th, 2024


• Please reflect on your mentorship experience and how this Program contributed to your research and career goals

• Please reflect on your goals & action plan, then reflect on your outcomes and evaluate success based on your IDP

• Max 500 words – please email directly to by May 13th, 2024

SURVEY: Please fill out the program evaluation survey by May 13th, 2024

Program Timeline & Deliverables

The mentorship program will take place from January to April. Through monthly check-ins, participants will be able to assess progress and outcomes and set new goals. At the end of the program, SBME will ask mentors and mentees to reflect on their outcomes and evaluate success based on the goals laid out in the IDP.

The table below provides milestones, deliverables and resources to support both mentors and mentees through the mentorship process.

Advice to a Scientist


Advice to a Scientist (AtaS) strives to provide open and equitable access to resources and mentorship in scientific training.

AtaS is built on the core belief that advice and mentorship are key ingredients that empower individuals to succeed in STEM. By breaking down borders and barriers, we want to make this accessible to everyone. To achieve this, AtaS has developed a website that serves as a hub where scientists, scientists-to-be, and future-scientists can find and share advice on topics relevant to the scientific training and development pipeline. This online hub is composed of several concurrent projects that allow us to work towards achieving our mandate.

For more information about AtaS projects. Please download our information sheet.

Advice to a Scientist

Exploring Science Database

Scientists-in-training often look to examples of their peers and predecessors to inform their own career trajectory, yet the scientific community does not have a centralized database to explore career paths and the experiences (formal and informal training, mentors, and other experiences) that drove individuals on those paths. AtaS’s new initiative, “Exploring Science” will be an interactive and visual database on which the career trajectories of members of the STEM community can be visualized and searched.


The “Exploring Science” project aims to weave a rich tapestry of stories from the STEM community by capturing the career trajectories of mentors through mentee-led interviews. This initiative not only fosters a deeper mentor-mentee relationship but also contributes to a centralized database that provides a holistic view of various career paths in STEM.

Key Objectives:

• Build Connections: Facilitate a meaningful relationship between mentor and mentee through shared stories and experiences.

• Visualize Career Paths: Populate the “Exploring Science” database with diverse career stories from the STEM community, going beyond formal CVs and resumes.

• Highlight Serendipity: Illuminate the unplanned, serendipitous moments that have significantly impacted mentors’ career journeys.

Before the Interview:

• Gather Preliminary Data: Obtain and review the mentor’s CV or resume, focusing on educational and career milestones.

• Schedule and Prepare: Allocate sufficient time for the interview and ensure thorough preparation by reviewing this guide.

• Consent for Recording: Seek approval to audio-record the session for accurate data transcription.

Conducting the Interview:

• Embrace Curiosity: Approach the interview with genuine interest, aiming to uncover the mentor’s motivations, challenges, and pivotal moments.

• Explore Beyond the Professional: Dive into hobbies, interests, and unexpected experiences that have shaped the mentor’s career and life.

• Document Thoroughly: Ensure detailed note-taking or recording to accurately capture the mentor’s shared experiences and reflections.

Post-Interview Actions:

• Data Compilation: Organize and input the gathered information into the provided tables, ensuring accuracy and completeness.

• Reflection and Submission: Reflect on the shared journey, compile the data, and submit it to contribute to the “Exploring Science” database.

Ensure respect, empathy, and confidentiality throughout the process, honoring the mentor’s shared experiences and insights.


1. Questions to ask your mentor to ensure you capture a complete image of their trajectory and the information needed for the Exploring Science database.

2. Instructions on how to record these interview results using an online submission form and template.

Please submit your completed tables as .xls files to to Jennifer Ma at AtaS ( using the subject line “AtaS Exploring Science SBME-STEMCELL partnership”. Please also cc Nika Shakiba (
Please review a Database Submission example here.

ATAS Articles (optional)

AtaS’s website features articles that follow a scientific review-inspired format in which authors summarize the current best practices and relevant resources on topics, such as “work-life balance and how to prevent burnout” and “how to study for an oral comprehensive exam”. These articles aim to distill the collective wisdom of the scientific community. All articles follow a defined format, including a section in which key messages from cited resources are synthesized as easily-accessible advice—so-called “tangible tips”.

Students are invited to propose a topic and submit for approval before moving forward with the full article.We encourage students to connect the topic to their goals in the IDP.
Please submit to Jennifer Ma, Editor at AtaS using the subject line “AtaS article SBME-STEMCELL partnership”. Please also copy” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Nika Shakiba.

Please review article examples here and here.

Career Paths Visualization

Previous mentees of our program mapped out their mentors’ career paths from childhood to career. This visual shows the various roads taken and how personal and professional events shaped these paths.

Program Milestone Calendar



February 1st, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Orientation and Program Kick-off event

Late Jan/Early Feb

1st Meeting

AtaS Exploring Science Interview


2nd Meeting

Discuss IDP, develop goals and outcomes

March 15

Submit career trajectory roadmap


Mentee completes self-evaluation and reviews IDP outcomes with mentor

May 13th

Evaluation: Final Report & Survey due