Coffee with a Scholar Program FAQs

 

Basic Questions Answered

When and where does Coffee with a Scholar occur during the SSWR Conference?

Mentors and mentees can meet at any mutually agreeable time during the conference. We encourage mentors and mentees to meet in public spaces within or near the Conference hotel. For example, CWS meetings could occur in the lobby, the hotel coffee shop, or a coffee shop within a block or two of the hotel. 


How is Coffee with a Scholar different than Lunch with a Scientist?

Lunch with a Scientist provides a lunch period during which faculty and student attendees are encouraged to eat together. The program is a more open program where students might meet with multiple scientists. Program participants pay an additional fee for lunch. 

Coffee with a Scholar matches student and faculty attendees on specific characteristics, including content area, research methodology expertise, and individual identity characteristics to facilitate individualized mentoring relationships. This program is organized by the Doctoral Student Committee of SSWR and is completely free. 

What improvements have been made to the Coffee with a Scholar Program this year? 

  • We are continuing to improve and automate the matching process. This has a few benefits. First, we hope it will enable us to make more matches, as the program has not yet fully met demand. Second, we hope that the quality of matches will continue to improve. 

  • We will be providing expanded information in matching emails this year. This will include information about the student, including their year in their program, and the metric by which the mentor and mentee were matched. 

  • We will be providing additional resources to faculty and students to help optimize the effectiveness of one-hour coffee chats. 

  • We hope to make 200 matches in 2020!


Matches

Should I still sign up if I have not been matched in the past?

Yes, please do! We hope to make 200 matches for SSWR 2020 as we continue to expand the program to meet demand and improve the efficiency of the program. We will do our best to match as many people as possible each year and appreciate both faculty and student commitment to this program. 

How are Coffee with a Scholar matches determined? 

We will match students with faculty who have expertise in areas and topics of high priority to the student. Matches are made by aligning student interests with the expertise of participating faculty members. Interested students and faculty are emailed surveys in December and these data are used to help individualize matches. Both students and faculty members will complete a survey to facilitate matches across four main domains: Research Content Areas, Methodological Areas, Professional Development Topics, and Identity-Specific Mentoring. When students complete the CWS survey, they will rank their priorities for a match across the four main domains. We try to do our best to make matches based upon these student priorities, although it is limited by the available expertise held by participating faculty. 

I was matched with someone who is not in my content area. What should I do?

Many students have reported to us that talking with someone outside their content area to be incredibly helpful. These conversations can provide insight into the field or help you consider different lens through which to consider your research. However, sometimes it can be hard to start the conversation. Here are some tips:

  • Ask the person to tell them about their trajectory - how did they get to the job and the research they do today?

  • Ask the person about methodologies, professional expertise, or other questions beyond content area. 

  • If it applies, ask them to consider how research from your content area may relate or inform research from their content area and vice versa. 

  • Ask them about general advice. What advice would they give to a person at your point in your trajectory? 

Why have some people not been matched in the past? What can we expect this year at SSWR 2021? 

Coffee with a Scholar continues to develop and improve. We have significantly increased the number of matches from 40 matches in 2018 to 117 matches in 2019. We are aiming for 200 matches in 2020. In the past we have been unable to match all faculty and all students primarily due to limited time and resources. We continue to problem-solve around these challenges and learn so we can support more matches. We hope that not being matched in the past will not deter faculty or students to sign up, as we will continue to do our best to maximize the number of matches. 

This year Coffee with a Scholar signups will be available from the opening of registration to November 30th. We hope to match as many people as possible of those who sign up prior to this date. 


Meeting Up

Where is Coffee with a Scholar held?

Coffee with a Scholar is held wherever works for you! There is no designated space for the program. Instead, we encourage mentors and mentees to meet in public spaces within or near the Conference hotel. For example, CWS meetings could occur in the lobby, the hotel coffee shop, or a coffee shop within a block or two of the hotel. We do suggest exchanging cell phone numbers and confirming meeting time and location the day of the meeting. 

When is Coffee with a Scholar? 

Coffee with a Scholar is held whenever works for you. We encourage mentors and mentees to find a mutually agreeable hour to meet during the conference. We also suggest exchanging cell phone numbers and confirming meeting time and location the day of the meeting. 

Is coffee provided? 

Unfortunately, coffee is not provided by SSWR. However, we hope that participants can take advantage of freely available coffee and beverages during the conference or potentially treat each other to a coffee during the meeting. Also beverages are not necessary to enjoy a mentoring conversation, though we encourage it to create a more conversational atmosphere. 

How can I make sure I can find my mentor/ mentee at SSWR? 

First, when you are emailing each other prior to the conference, we suggest finding a mutually agreeable time. Second, we suggest identifying an easily recognizable location in the conference hotel. For example, meeting near the conference registration table or the hotel check-in desk. Third, we encourage mentors and mentees to make email contact on the day of the meeting to confirm the time still works for both parties. Finally, we do suggest exchanging cell phone numbers, though some mentors and mentees may prefer not to do this. In this case, picking any easy to find location is helpful!


I was matched with an excellent mentor who was in high demand at the conference, but took the time to have lunch with me and conversation did not feel rushed. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and couldn’t be more pleased with my match.
— 2019 Mentee