There are many communities of support in GSA. Recently, you read the stories and inspirations that drive the GSA Foundation’s trustees to give back to their science and the Society as volunteers and donors.
Over the next weeks, we look forward to sharing with you the testimonials of members who give back to the Society as mentors. GSA mentors provide critical aid to the Society’s student members, offering their wisdom and experience, and giving feedback and career advice. Whether as an OTF mentor or participant in the Women in Geology Career Pathways Reception at the annual meeting, or at one of our drop-in or résumé mentor sessions, these individuals forge relationships that support emerging geoscientists.
For Margaret Eggers, GSA’s Councilor, past–GSAF Trustee and Board Chair, and principal at Eggers Environmental Inc., serving as an OTF mentor has been rewarding, allowing her to share her experience and perspective, while learning more about the challenges that are facing students and early career geoscientists.
What attracted you to serve as a mentor for the On To the Future program? How would you describe your experience?
The enthusiasm of the first group of mentors was infectious. I wasn’t sure I had the right experience to be a mentor, but was encouraged by the experiences of colleagues who jumped at the chance to mentor the first OTF students. I have now mentored at least one student for the last several OTF cohorts. Each student seems to connect with different parts of my work history. Different discussions and perspectives resonate with each individual student, and seem to be helpful to them in figuring out which path is best for them. It’s been a surprisingly enjoyable experience for me personally—the best volunteer activities seem to unexpectedly have their own reward.
How has being an OTF mentor impacted your engagement with the geosciences?
It’s made me more conscious of the challenges today’s students and early career geoscientists face, and to really focus on what can we do to make sure this career, that so many of us have enjoyed over the decades, is available and viable to those just starting out.
How has it deepened your experience of GSA as a community?
It’s been really touching to see seasoned geologists with long careers reaching out to our next generation of geologists. The combination of providing the benefits of experience of a long career, with the unexpected benefit of being taken back in time to when we were all in the shoes of these young scientists today, is a win-win for everyone. By talking with and listening to new geologists, and giving tips and advice that we wish we could have had at that stage, there’s lots that build community across the entire age range of GSA membership. You really see a community connecting senior members who possess a whole range of career experience with early career folks who may not have access to senior career professionals.
What would you say to someone considering supporting OTF, either as a mentor or a donor?
Just DO IT! As a donor, it’s a wonderful way to jump-start a student into a career we love. As a mentor, you don’t realize how much your experience can provide perspective to someone just starting out. Yes your experience is different; everyone’s is. But talking about choices you made—the good, the bad, the confusing—shows that there are options that a student might not have thought of, or considered.