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BSI mentoring scheme: Dr Muhammed Yuksel’s experience

Dr Muhammed Yuksel

As part of our mission to support and develop the next generation of world-leading immunologists, the BSI mentoring scheme pairs up mentors and mentees from different institutions and sectors based on overlapping needs and expertise. Dr Muhammed Yuksel, Lecturer in Life Sciences (Immunology) at University of Westminster, joined our 2023 scheme and was paired with senior lecturer and co-chair of our Teaching Affinity Group, Dr Nigel Francis, Cardiff University. Here, Muhammed shares his experience as a mentee and the benefits of mentoring.

Dr Muhammed Yuksel, Lecturer in Life Sciences (Immunology), University of Westminster

Muhammed joined our 2023 scheme as a mentee and was paired with senior lecturer and co-chair of our Teaching Affinity Group, Dr Nigel Francis, Cardiff University.  

Where did you first hear about the BSI mentoring scheme and what drew you to it? 

While I was researching the advantages of joining the British Society for Immunology (BSI), I first learned about the mentoring scheme on the BSI website. I read the statement of an earlier applicant who also desired to progress in his career by becoming a lecturer but required guidance and impartial CV feedback/assessment.

How do you feel the BSI mentoring scheme has helped and supported you in your career choices? 

The BSI mentoring scheme was very beneficial to me in many ways. First of all, it helped me to realise that my résumé is actually quite good and that it is crucial to write in a way that HR representatives can quickly tick off the job requirements' check list. So, I used the desired/essential requirements listed in the job descriptions to rewrite the personal statement. Additionally, I learned that applying for jobs is a numbers game and that it is common to receive few or no responses despite my repeated applications. I needed this pep talk to boost my self-confidence.

During the scheme what level of frequency of contact did you have with your mentor and what level do you think works best? 

To begin with, we had two or three online meetings. We then decided to keep in touch with each other via email whenever I was about to apply for a job in academia. We were able to effectively utilise our time by avoiding standing meetings with an unclear agenda.

What qualities in a mentor are ideal for a scheme such as this? 

It is essential to have someone who has already travelled the path I was about to take. A person who can offer guidance on the advantages and difficulties of choosing a research or teaching position in academia. Having a mentor who is completely committed, as in my case, is essential because this mentoring responsibility comes on top of all other obligations.   

Can you discuss a particular highlight of the scheme that you feel best exemplifies your mentoring experience? 

I received notice of an interview that was scheduled to take place five days later. My mentor was immediately informed, and he sent me a very thorough email with suggestions for how I could organise my presentation as well as information about the courses' accreditation, which I had not considered. Despite the short notice, my mentor provided me with everything I needed, and I was hired!

Finally, would you recommend to your peers and colleagues to join the BSI mentoring scheme as a mentee? 

Definitely! I wholeheartedly urge all of my peers to sign up for the BSI mentoring scheme. It is provided without charge and is based on the goodwill of more senior BSI members who want to aid less experienced members in advancing their careers. The professionalism and attentive listening skills played a major role in my experience having a successful ending.  

2024 mentoring scheme

Applications are now open from those wishing to participate in the 2024 BSI mentoring scheme. We're recruiting for both mentors and mentees and we encourage applications from a range of career stages and different sectors, such as industry and clinical settings. The deadline to apply is Monday 9 October 2023 at 23:59 BST.

Calling all experienced immunologists

Our popular mentoring scheme is usually in high demand from early career immunologists, and we’re looking for senior immunologists from across the sector to act as mentors, providing professional development support and aiding career progression. If you are an established immunologist who wants to provide aspiring scientists with independent support and advice, we’d like to hear from you. We're particularly keen to encourage applications from potential mentors who work in industry or in a clinical setting. As a mentor, you would offer help and advice on career planning and development, networking, setting up collaborations, work/life balance and more.