Success in HF/E through Quality Mentorship
The first HFE WOMAN blog post features Dr. Haydee Cuevas whose passion for human factors and mentorship is unparalleled.
Dr. Cuevas earned her B.A. in Psychology and her Ph.D. in Applied Experimental and Human Factors Psychology from the University of Central Florida. Haydee is currently an Assistant Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Haydee has chaired and served on numerous doctoral defenses and has mentored many undergraduate researchers.
Haydee’s passion for mentorship was influential in the development of many human factors-based networking opportunities, such as the Mentor-Mentee Luncheon, the Mentoring Game, the Student Roommate Matching Service, National Ergonomics Month, and the Mentorship Committee, which are all part of each Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).
Throughout her career, Haydee has encouraged young professionals to pursue their own unique research interests and utilize that excitement as a catalyst for expanding their professional network. Collaborating with others on shared research ideas and projects is an effective way to increase the access to strong mentorship.
Based on our discussion on mentorship and leadership, Haydee and I propose that strong mentors demonstrate the following qualities:
Strong mentors provide knowledgeable advice and information to mentees.
Quality mentors should guide mentees with honest feedback and guidance that supports mentees’ goals as HFE scientists. Mentors have an open and continuous flow of dialogue with their mentees. Strong mentors are not absent from the lives of their mentees, but are also not demanding or overbearing.
Strong mentors understand mentees’ goals and help facilitate their realization.
Quality mentors openly and thoughtfully discuss the short-term and long-term goals of their mentees. Strong mentors should seek to support these goals to the best extent that they can. This can include linking mentees with other researchers or organizations in the field to expand the mentee’s professional network, spawn new ideas that ultimately push the discipline of HFE forward, and developing empowered mentees.
Strong mentors have compassion for their mentees.
Quality mentors have both a passion for mentoring, and it is naturally enjoyable for them. Strong mentors are committed to the development of their mentees as future scientists, leaders, and mentors.
While it is not necessarily a requisite that mentors demonstrate each of these qualities, we propose that at least one of these qualities should be reflected in a mentor. If a particular mentor lacks these qualities, the mentee may need to seek out additional mentors to supplement their needs for mentorship (a follow-up blog post on developing a “Board of Directors” is in the works- stay tuned!). Having multiple mentors can provide useful guidance for a young scientist in HFE from multiple perspectives. For example, a senior career professional (the mentor) may connect a graduate researcher (the mentee) to opportunities within the field (e.g., internship opportunities, research laboratory exchanges, open job positions, etc.). While another mid-level career mentor may connect the mentee to new research ideas, analytic techniques, and novel research projects.
Students and early-career professionals need quality mentors who aid in their personal and professional development. If quality sources of mentorship are unavailable, it may be in the mentee’s best interest to expand their network and seek out multiple mentors. This way, the mentee receives a holistic mentoring experience, which bolsters their personal and professional life, and ultimately promotes success in the field of HFE at large.
The HFE WOMAN group recognizes that it can be challenging to develop this “Board of Mentors,” which is why one major campaign within this organization is to promote and provide networking opportunities for its members. For example, this blog, the HFE WOMAN Facebook page, and HFES Mentor-Mentee Luncheon are opportunities to improve the mentorship experience for individuals and ultimately facilitate quality mentor-mentee connections.
This post was written by Dr. Alexis R. Neigel and Dr. Haydee M. Cuevas. Correspondence regarding this post can be directed to Dr. Alexis Neigel at email@example.com.