Marvelous mentors at AAAS

Where there are science writers, there’s schmoozing. And parties during the AAAS meeting last week elevated the evening social gathering to a new standard of sophistication. One event, at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C., featured fancy finger food and cocktails in test tubes. At another, waiters served bison sausage with jelly. But my favorite gathering was a spontaneous lunch of take-out Chinese food in a quiet room in the convention center.

My AAAS meeting mentor, a freelancer from New Jersey, and I had planned to go out to lunch with other mentor/mentee pairs. But Sunday came, and it looked like our schedules could not mesh. I had an interview at noon and an afternoon session to attend.

Not one to be stymied by logistics, my mentor organized a group of my classmates and other mentor/mentee pairs to bring lunch back to the convention center. We found a quiet place to sit, cracked open the paper take-out boxes and chowed down.

The mentors, all veteran freelancers, passed on knowledge they wished they knew when they started–helpful advice for us newbies. I was so touched that the group was thoughtful enough to bring lunch back to the convention center so I could be included in the discussion.

Chit-chatting with editors and other writers is helpful. But I’ve benefited most from the mentoring programs that I’ve participated in, both here at AAAS, organized by NASW, and at the fall AGU meeting arranged by our program director. I find one-on-one discussions tend toward more practical topics than quick conversations during cocktail hour. From my mentors, I’ve learned tips for interviewing, pitching and preparing for large meetings.

Thank you, mentors, for volunteering your time to assist younger writers! I certainly appreciate the advice and I hope I’ll be able to give back one day, helping younger writers as my mentors have helped me.

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