Part 2: Isolation Busting
by Amanda Rasmussen
“I was told to expect the isolation, but it’s still difficult to move from a big, functioning lab with lots of people to being on your own.” –Erin
Personally I was used to working independently having come through two fellowships but for me the isolation came from being an outsider – both culturally and scientifically. I didn’t fit in and that made me feel incredibly isolated. On advice from a collaborator and my mentor, I requested a move to a different division within the school (and with it a change in building). This was the best decision I ever made. I’m now in a supportive environment with people who respect the fact that I’m different.
Like Erin, Kaisa and Tom, I make regular meetings with mentors (which could be officially allocated, other academics, or peers). Erin and I have monthly skype meetings which we both value immensely and I have bi-weekly meetings with a collaborator/friend/mentor in a different faculty who can provide support and honest feedback. This is in addition to regular contact with the people in my new division who have diverse expertise and administrative knowledge (urgh admin!).
Isolation busting action points: 1) book one meeting every week with someone to chat to for an hour over coffee or lunch. This could be a peer, a collaborator, a mentor (or a different person every week). 2) If you find that you don’t interact with people in your department but you do with people in a different department, discuss options for moving.