NAACL Mentoring Sessions

Goals: The NAACL 2021 Diversity & Inclusion committee has taken on the responsibility for organizing mentoring at the conference. Our goal is that people with less experience can get advice from community members with more experience. The focus is mainly on graduate and undergraduate students, as well as early career researchers.

What are the Mentoring Sessions? We have organized two types of mentoring sessions. One type is the matched mentoring sessions where the mentors and mentees are matched according to their interests and topics. In addition, we are organizing four open mentoring sessions in order to make mentoring accessible to everyone, including those who were unable to sign up on time. These sessions will be open to all conference attendees and have no set topics. Multiple mentors will be assigned to these sessions to enable effective discussion on various topics. The group mentoring sessions are organized to span different time zones to offer students and early-career researchers a chance to meet and get advice from senior researchers on various topics.

How to join the mentoring sessions? Instructions for joining the sessions will be posted on the virtual conference site.

What is the format of the mentoring sessions? The matched mentoring sessions are structured as 1-hr virtual roundtable discussion/Q&A sessions which will be held on Zoom and deliberately kept small to maximize interaction, with at most 15 members in each group. These sessions require pre-registration and are accessible only to those who signed up.

When are the mentoring sessions scheduled for? The matched mentoring sessions are scheduled according to the preferences of the mentors and mentees who signed up for this resource.

The open sessions are currently planned on:

  • Monday, Jun 7, 2 pm PDT
  • Tuesday, Jun 8, 7 am PDT
  • Tuesday, Jun 8, 2 pm PDT
  • Wednesday, Jun 9, 2 pm PDT

What are the potential topics of discussion?

Some potential topics of discussion include:

  • Diversity and Inclusion in NLP
  • Finding a great mentor/advisor
  • “Managing up” (working effectively with your advisor/supervisor)
  • Mental Health
  • Surviving graduate school
  • Work-life balance
  • Learning to draw boundaries/how to say no

Various career related questions:

  • Long-term career planning
  • Changing career direction to NLP
  • Choosing between academia and industry
  • Building your professional identity
  • Whether to do a PhD, and how to apply for and choose a PhD program
  • Getting a faculty position

As well as research advice like:

  • Navigating research problems/directions in NLP
  • Establishing collaborations and networking
  • Effective communication in research
  • Becoming a research leader

What are the expectations of the mentor? (or How to make the mentoring most effective?)

Mentors are expected to:

  • Manage floor time: make sure each participant gets a turn to speak and interact
  • Make the session engaging: Set the right tone of the discussion that encourages mentees to speak up and share their questions and experiences.
  • Keep discussion focused: While it is ok to discuss a broad range of topics, a themed discussion may be more effective.
  • Set expectations: are mentees allowed to follow up with you? What types of contact are appropriate?

For open mentoring sessions where there are multiple mentors present: We suggest that the mentors for the open mentoring sessions coordinate amongst themselves about how they would like to conduct their sessions. For example, they could decide if they would like to introduce certain topics and make opening remarks before opening up the floor to questions. They could also choose to present something to the audience, have a panel-style discussion, share experiences, or generally just go with the flow.

What are the expectations of the mentee (or How to make the most of your time with the mentor?):

  • Set goals: What are your goals and outcomes from this mentoring session? Come prepared with a list of questions that you’d like the mentor to address.
  • Be specific: Asking for specific feedback is more likely to result in advice that you can act or work on. This includes identifying action items that you could work on in the short-term as well as long-term.
  • After the mentoring session - check with the mentor if they are ok with follow up via email or other channels.

Code of Conduct: All participants are expected to abide by code of conduct rules which would entail pledging to make participation a harassment-free experience for all, regardless of age, body size, visible or invisible disability, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, level of experience, education, socio-economic status, nationality, personal appearance, race, religion or sexual identity and orientation. Instances of unacceptable behavior should be reported to PCC or by emailing the D&I committee. All complaints will be promptly and fairly investigated.

How did you (D&I Committee) prepare this list of recommendations?

We use the following as our references:

Emelo, R. (2011), ‘‘Group mentoring: rapid multiplication of learning’’, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 136-45.

Bynum, Y. P. (2015). The power of informal mentoring. Education, 136(1), 69-73.