Opportunities at APPA for Early Career Investigators

Round Table Discussion

Our annual roundtable is held on the second morning of the conference (typically a Friday) and occurs over breakfast, prior to the scheduled talks for the day. The format is informal, with interested individuals from all career stages (graduate student through full professor) welcome to attend and bring the breakfast that’s available to all conference attendees; despite this widely cast net, the goal of the roundtable is specifically to enable early career investigators to seek career advice from the more senior members in attendance, as well as early career peers as appropriate.

Dr. Helen Wilson, APPA Membership Chair, facilitates this discussion, with input from other APPA council members who also make a point of attending this event. Importantly, participation in this event among early career conference attendees has grown steadily over the past five years it has been offered, and feedback from attendees has been positive, in particular in relation to the informal format that offers a counterpoint to the more structured nature of the remainder of the meeting.

Mentorship Program

The APPA has also recently launched a mentorship program for early career investigators to enable them to more easily integrate into the ongoing meeting. The program has focused to date on individuals selected to present a poster during the meeting, who self-identify as being interested in getting paired with a more senior APPA member who is registered to attend the upcoming meeting. Senior-level APPA members who are interested in serving in a mentorship role during the upcoming meeting are paired with these interested junior level investigators. Every attempt is made to match mentees with mentors who have overlapping interests, to maximize the scope of advice that can be shared (i.e. beyond the workings of the ongoing meeting to broader career issues). The mentors are encouraged to meet with their mentees once or twice during the meeting, to benefit from their expertise.

Due to positive feedback about this relatively new program, we are including a question during the meeting registration process that asks individuals who have been APPA members for at least 5 years to indicate whether they would be willing to serve as a mentor. These individuals will then serve as the primary source from which mentors will be drawn for individuals who express interest in having one. On the mentee side, we will also include a question asking if an individual is a first time APPA meeting attendee or an early career investigator; if so, they will be asked whether they would be interested in being paired with a mentor during the upcoming meeting.