NASW Members: Sign up to mentor a student at 2023 AAAS annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

January 24, 2023

The NASW Education Committee is again sponsoring its annual in-person mentoring program during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. March 2-5, and we are inviting experienced science writers to volunteer as mentors. We will pair mentors with students in graduate science writing programs or with undergraduates who have demonstrated a serious interest in science writing.

If you would like to help, please complete this form and we will assign a student to you before the meeting starts.

Mentors and students will gather for an orientation session, 3-4 p.m. Friday, March 3. If you can't make that meeting, it’s OK to contact your student in advance and arrange when and where to meet, but please be sure to ask the student to attend the group orientation even if you won't be there.

Mentors have traditionally had their students shadow them for a day or part of a day, showing them how they select talks and press conferences for coverage. That said, your involvement is totally up to you; if you prefer, you can simply meet for a cup of coffee, breakfast and be available for questions throughout the meeting, or find some other way to help. We welcome staff journalists, PIOs, freelancers and others – science communication careers of all types are useful as models for the students.

Many former mentees now regularly volunteer as mentors because they found the program so inspiring. Please help NASW continue this valuable tradition.

We aim to pair mentors and students who have similar areas of interest, but matches may not be exact. Please indicate on the form whether you are willing to mentor more than one student, if there is a need. (You may mentor them simultaneously).

We will let you know which student(s) you have been paired with at least one week before AAAS starts. Please make sure that you are also registered for the AAAS meeting (regular registration or press registration).

Questions? Email mentor@nasw.org.

NASW mentor dos and don'ts

  • DO model professional behavior
  • DO suggest resources, materials, or other connections.
  • DO share information about your background, skills, and interests.
  • DO offer constructive, meaningful advice and feedback.
  • DO ask questions before giving advice. Take time to understand where someone is and where they want to go.
  • DO recognize mentee’s milestones and achievements.
  • DO respect the mentee’s time and expectations of the program.
  • DON’T make assumptions.
  • DON’T drop the ball. Strive to respond to communications in a timely manner.
  • DON’T do the mentee’s writing for them.
  • DON’T forget to exercise empathy, patience, and respect for mentee.

NASW mentee dos and don'ts

  • DO be clear about what you hope to learn from this experience.
  • DO be proactive. It is the mentee’s responsibility to maintain contact with the mentor and schedule any future interactions.
  • DO ask questions.
  • DO respect the mentor’s time. Schedule mutually convenient ways and times to check in (video, chat, email, etc.) for any follow-ups. We understand that schedules change, often unpredictably. If you cannot make a deadline or follow-up, let the mentor know as soon as possible.
  • DON’T drop the ball. Strive to respond to communications in a timely manner and follow through on commitments.
  • DON’T hesitate to contact mentor@nasw.org if you encounter a problem, have concerns, or if something impacts your ability to be part of the program.

Questions? Contact NASW Education Committee Co-Chairs Czerne Reid and Ashley Yeager and Internship Fair Coordinator Berly McCoy at education@nasw.org. Thank you to Czerne, Ashley, Berly, and other NASW member volunteers who spearhead our student programming year after year. And tag #SciWriStudent in your social media posts to join the conversation.


NASW student programming is organized by the National Association of Science Writers, and is not a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. However, NASW extends its thanks to AAAS for its partnership over the years for providing meeting spaces during past Annual Meetings for NASW student programming. For more information, share our announcement: https://www.nasw.org/article/nasw-science-writers-annual-journalism-internship-fair-and-mentoring-opportunities-student-early-career-members

Founded in 1934 with a mission to fight for the free flow of science news, NASW is an organization of more than 3,000 professional journalists, authors, editors, producers, public information officers, students and people who write and produce material intended to inform the public about science, health, engineering, and technology. To learn more, visit www.nasw.org