In an effort to attract new, young minds to the Mountain Sentinels network, we created the Early Career Mountain Sentinels group, which began as a brief cocktails and tapas event at Perth III this past October. If the venue was a bit small, and if the meatballs ran out far too soon, that is only because almost 50 of the 75 students who registered for the conference turned out to participate in the event! We were thrilled by the interest and excitement of the group, many of whom came with only a vague idea of what Mountain Sentinels meant, but with great ideas of what the group could become. In small groups, we shared our stories, learned new ones, and made new friends – two researchers sitting next to me actually discovered they work in nearby locations in the Pamirs, but had never even heard of each other! I would say the event was worth it just for that. And the best part of all – no one ran off on the bill for their drink.
Building off this momentum, the graduate students of Mountain Sentinels PIs put together a surveythat solicited the perspectives of early career researchers and practitioners on what the organization could do to help them at this critical stage in their career. We outlined a few possible activities or products based on our conversations at the Perth event, and asked for feedback and a score of 1 (not interested) through 5 (very interested) for each of them. Ideas included: Events at Major Conferences; Listserv; Newsletter; Directory; Discussion Forum; Facebook Page; Blog; Publication Repository with Spotlight Feature; Educational Module on Mountain Issues.
We also asked for their ideas on ways Mountain Sentinels could facilitate connections with groups outside academia, and whether they had other ideas for how the organization could assist them with their career. If you are interested in sharing your own thoughts on these issues, please use the survey link above to contribute.
Of all these ideas, only the Facebook page had an average score below 3, indicating that people were not interested in using that forum to maintain network connections (Linked In and ResearchGate were preferred by many respondents, and some just didn’t use social media at all). All the other ideas were well-received, and the 31 respondents provided critical and encouraging feedback for us as we plan our next steps.
You can sign up for the Early Career Mountain Sentinels list serv here: just find “MTNSENTINELS_EARLYCAREER” in the drop down list, then add your name and email address. If you run into problems, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to look for a special Early Career section on the Mountain Sentinels website starting in January 2016 where we will begin to compile our Early Career directory!