Interview with the mentee Marina Gladkova

Interview with the season 1 mentee Marina Gladkova

Interviewer: Olya Vvedenskaya

Olya: Can you tell me what kind of request you had when you joined the Sci.STEPS program?

Marina: I was just at a crossroads, I had a kind of local academic crisis because it became impossible for me to continue working on research field [in Russian graduate school]. This was due to external pressure, and because of this situation, I was suggested to participate in the Sci.Steps program. Initially, of course, I had plans for an international career, for collaborations and internships. 

M: I was interested in getting the experience of interacting with someone who had experienced something similar to what I might be going through: a long-distance move, a change of lab, some social aspects of it, and how the mentor sees and feels in an environment far from our usual one [Argentina]. 

I feel that science should be intercontinental, outside of politics, friendly, evolving. Anyway, that's why I was very happy when I found out that the program was being launched and I passed the selection criteria!

O: Have you participated in mentoring programs before?

M: No, I just knew there were some programs and I was observing them on social media. I found out about the Sci.STEPS program and I wanted to get involved in the community, because I had lost my international connections over the years. I wanted to seek some support from my senior colleagues, I just wanted to believe in myself.

O: Did your expectations of the program coincide with the reality of the program at all?

M: I think it coincided by 80%. The remaining 20% is more for my own internal reasons. The atmosphere in the community was and is 110 out of 100. I'm very satisfied. I liked everything very much, and in general people are the most valuable asset, just a diamond of this program - both organizers and participants. We try to keep in touch after the program, despite the distances and different time zones. At the moment (6 months after the end of the program) my original request from the program [search for a PhD position] is still valid. Basically, I understood objectively that it would be very good if I was lucky and something would turn up quickly and somehow everything would work out. So far it hasn't worked out that way. But in any case, yes, it's a kind of dynamic, and I'm glad that it's possible to stay in touch with the community.

O: Has the program given you anything?

M: First of all, I benefited from our joined workshops, and I also realized the usefulness of social networks for scientists, in particular LinkedIn and twitter. I also started tracking local sites to find interesting positions, and learned how to tailor resume to specific positions from a generic template. Also it very helpful that the program touched on personal branding and how to apply it in science. Sci.STEPS for me were the first to expose this at all. Sometimes I didn't have time to attend the events, so I reviewed all the notes and made my own compilation of useful materials.

In general, the program breathed new life into me and supported me in such a way that I still, despite all the limitations, was able to achieve scientific results during this time, started to publish more or less normally. From the point of view of my psychological state: I somehow believed in myself and in my strength once again. And now I see that there are results, I see that I am going in the right direction. Despite the fact that the original goal was so global, it is not closed yet. But it seems that its achievement is somewhere close, and it encourages me a lot.

O: I have one last question: was there any unexpected, non-target result of your participation in the program? Something that wasn't directly related to your participation, but somehow had an impact on your life?

M: I didn't expect how warmly I would be received.

O: Really?

M: I'm just used to a very cold and quite toxic atmosphere in Russian science, unfortunately, and I didn't expect so many good people to be in the program. I felt really cozy and comfortable. In my previous experience, the atmosphere in science was rigid, dry, 'don't say an extra word, don't stick your neck out'. I even at some point thought that maybe I don't belong in science at all, maybe science just doesn't want me, I'm not up to the mark after all. But people in the program really saw some scientific potential in me and supported me. It was very important and valuable to me. I wanted to believe in myself after the program.

About Sci.STEPS

Are you a scientist seeking to work on your education and career? Sci.STEPS scientific mentorship program offers valuable insights and guidance from experts all over the world in the form of long-term structured guidance or targeted short consultations. From refining your research skills to navigating the complex world of academia and industry, the program is designed to empower you with the knowledge and confidence needed to excel in your scientific journey.