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Academic Coaching & Writing

Academic Career Support Network

The purpose of the Academic Career Support Network is to establish and maintain the strategic relationships critical to your academic success.

A clear understanding of the needs of each relationship is essential for connecting with influential people who will help you to advance your career. This awareness will help you to nurture advocates and provide you with a process for gathering feedback from your “support team.” In addition, your career network helps to develop others’ awareness of you and your academic “brand.”

Academic Career Support Circle


A “Champion” or “Sponsor” may be your Advisor, Chair, or Dean. This person needs to be an advocate for you, someone you have identified as “in the know” in your area, who will be at the right meetings and conferences to help you identify opportunities. Your Champion/Sponsor needs to be able to create opportunities for you, and should be a “fan” of you and your work. Make sure to articulate and formally ask a person if he or she will serve as your Champion/Sponsor. Do your research so that you are prepared to tell that person why you have chosen him or her. Make sure you are clear on what it is about the work that will prove mutually beneficial. Be prepared to share your strengths, ambitions, and the value you bring to the relationship. Hold this person with the highest regard and try your best to never let him or her down. Request opportunities to connect with your Champion/Sponsor at least one to two times per year, and reciprocate, by offering your services. Make it clear that you understand that all conversations are completely confidential.


“Mentors” are people in your field or related fields who can advise and help you become aware of growth opportunities. While champions are more like “super mentors,” as they are at the highest level within your reach within the organization, mentors need to be more accessible. Because mentors will have more experience than you have, they can help you learn “the ropes.” Consider finding multiple mentors, as they can provide you with different types of expertise and support. Look for people you respect, who have influence, are further along in their careers, and are well thought of and influential in their fields. Follow the guidelines for Champions; however, you should try to meet more frequently with your Mentor, perhaps once per quarter or three times per year.

Peer Supporters

“Peer Supporters” are colleagues willing to read your work who expect, in return, your feedback on their work. These should be people who will be brutally honest, yet supportive, of you and your writing. Creating weekly writing groups with your Peer Supporters will help to hold you accountable to your writing goals and provide opportunities for discussing your writing. Create a schedule with your  Peer Supporters to meet your mutual writing needs.


A “Coach” is a trusted confidante who combines the roles of cheerleader, champion, “teller of hard truths,” and sounding board. A Coach provides accountability through regular meetings and helps you advance your career by assessing the big picture and focusing on your passions. A Coach helps you with “impression management,” the “vibe” or “energy” you present to the world. Once you become clear on how you want to be perceived, what you desire as your “mode of operation,” your Coach will help you translate that awareness into action. Look for a Coach who is familiar with your specific needs, such as fluency with your area of expertise, career concerns, or areas you wish to develop. Expect to meet once a week with your Coach, either on the phone, via Skype, or in person.

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