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How do I volunteer?

We welcome prospective mentors from any division or scientific institution, and encourage participation from all levels. You do not need to be nominated or have previous experience as a mentor. Our program is seeking to match protégés with mentors who are available and approachable, who have a desire and willingness to work with students, an ability to communicate, and a desire to benefit from the learning that comes through mentoring.

What if I'm not in Boulder?

SOARS is open to working with our colleagues across the country. Co-mentoring of a SOARS protégé based in Boulder can be arranged, especially if you will be visiting during the summer internship. Off-site placements can also occasionally be arranged - please contact Rebecca Haacker-Santos, the SOARS director, if this is of interest to you.

Mentor Application
Once you have read the mentor descriptions and decided which type of mentor you would like to be, apply on the Spark Volunteer page.

What kind of mentor can I be?

Research Mentor

The research mentor works with the protégé on a research topic of mutual interest. On average, a project mentor spends about ten hours per week with a protégé discussing the project, guiding research, teaching scientific methods, and helping the protégé with their research paper and presentation.

Writing Mentor

A writing mentor offers one-on-one feedback to their protégé on writing and presentations. The writing mentor supplements the instruction protégés receive in their weekly writing workshop and spends about two hours per week with the protégé.

Computing Mentor

The computing mentor helps the protégé learn the computing skills necessary to complete their project. Mentoring includes providing one-on-one tutoring, recommending resources and helping debug or troubleshoot code.

Coach

Each first-year SOARS protégé is assigned a coach. The coach meets approximately once a week to help their protégé develop solutions to troubling situations by helping them define the problem, envision the way they would like things to be, and develop and implement steps to get there.

Peer Mentor

First year protégés also get a peer mentor, an experienced protégé who can provide insider tips and help welcome them to SOARS.

What are the summer program dates?

Protégés will arrive in Boulder around the last week in May and will take part in leadership training and orientation for the remainder of the week. There will be a Mentor Luncheon during this training. Protégés will begin working in their labs the following week. The program concludes the first week in August. For specific dates, please check out our calendar.

What do I need to do before my protégé arrives for the summer?

Here are some suggested activities for the time before your protégé arrives:

How do I prepare a project for my protégé?

SOARS is a multi-year program, and protégés are eligible to participate in as many as four summers. The participants during any summer range from undergraduate students completing their sophomore year to early graduate students and come from colleges and universities across the United States and Puerto Rico. For this reason, each summer includes protégés from a wide range of backgrounds and with differing levels of experience. The SOARS office can help mentors plan for the summer and become acquainted with your protégé. If you're a prospective project mentor planning or creating a project that requires a specific background, let us know what the project requires on the Mentor Information Form, and we'll do our best to match your project to an appropriate protégé. Once you've been paired with a protégé, the SOARS office can provide information about your protégé's technical and academic background and can supply copies of any past SOARS research papers. More info on structuring a project.

Training for prospective mentors

SOARS offers a mentor orientation and training in the spring for all mentors and offers additional training and meetings throughout the summer, as needed. Our mentor trainings are structured to provide information about mentoring with the SOARS program and to encourage mentors to engage with and learn from each other.

In addition to this formal training, Rebecca Haacker-Santos, the SOARS director, is pleased to discuss mentoring strategies and techniques.

How are protégés and mentors paired?

Protégés and mentors are usually paired in March and April. Returning protégés are encouraged to select divisions, projects, or areas of interest to them. When possible, protégés are matched to mentors in their specified areas of interest. New protégés are matched with mentors by the SOARS steering committee. This committee, consisting of members from across UCAR and NCAR, tries to match mentors and protégés based on mutual interests and project skill requirements.

How are SOARS protégés selected?

Interested students submit applications to SOARS in late winter (see Selection Considerations for program eligibility requirements). Applications consist of an application form with two essays, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts. A steering committee, made up of members from across UCAR, NCAR and partnering organizations, evaluate the applicants and recommend new protégés.

How should I define the scope of a research project for a protégé?

As much as possible, pick a project where you can involve the protégé directly in formulating the underlying hypothesis that guides the research. If you can, include several procedures or techniques as part of the project. This has two benefits: increased learning opportunities and decreased risk that the project will fail if a single technique fails. In the spirit of risk mitigation, it is often useful to design a few alternate approaches.

Because summer research programs struggle with the limitations of time, a central measure of the suitability of a SOARS research project is the ability for a protégé to complete the project during the 10 weeks of the program.

In structuring and executing the project, experienced SOARS project mentors suggest working together with the protégé to define the project, mitigating time limitations by getting to the project quickly, and setting intermediate project goals to track progress. If you have a returning protégé, it can be useful to consult with his or her previous project mentor in designing the project. For new protégés, the steering committee might be able to provide some guidance.

The SOARS office can also provide feedback about a prospective project. Don't hesitate to contact the SOARS director Rebecca Haacker-Santos with any ideas or questions.

Where can I learn more about effective mentoring strategies?

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