The La Trobe Business School Peer Mentorship Network (known as the ‘Cafe Club’), is an intellectual climate initiative funded by the Graduate Research School (GRS). The initiative was started by two PhD candidates – the newly graduated Dr Stephen Sim, and recently-confirmed Mrs Madeleine Kendrick. The idea behind the Peer Mentorship Network is to create a welcoming and supportive environment during the often-isolated experience of a research degree, aimed at Honours, Master’s, and PhD candidates in the La Trobe Business School.
During meetings, members share tea, coffee and snacks together while discussing whatever’s on their mind – like ‘How do I get that manuscript perfect for a journal?’ and ‘What do more experienced research candidates know about the library that I don’t?’
Why is it important?
Research shows that peer support and a peer network lead to better mental health and wellbeing among junior researchers. Establishing a community of practice, and a network of friendly faces to chat with on-campus, leads to higher rates of research completion. Also, long-term professional relationships are combined with improved academic performance and a higher overall candidate’s experience and satisfaction (e.g. Collings, Swanson & Watkins, 2014; Leidenfrost, Strassnig, Schutz, Carbon & Schabmann, 2014; Phillips, 2009).
A few months into their regular meetings, members of the Cafe Club have begun to generate a sense of camaraderie and increased collaboration with each other.
The Café Club is mainly about meeting like-minded people, talk about the research journey and connecting to more senior candidates. If you like to meet candidates from other schools or think that bi-monthly is not enough, then the GRS is also offering more productivity focused get-togethers. The GRS runs weekly ‘Shut up and Write’ sessions where researchers come together to write using the Pomodoro method of focused writing (25min) interleaved with short breaks. They also organise a weekly online ‘Shut up and Write’ session, every Monday afternoon on Twitter (@LTUresearchers #LTUsuaw)
When is the next meeting?
The next Cafe Club meeting takes place on Wednesday, September 12 at 3pm in the Martin Building 101
For information on how this initiative was started (so you can begin your own network in another department!), or to find out how to join, please contact Mrs Kendrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Madeleine is an inter-disciplinary scholar studying governance practices in public health organisations at LTU. In addition to her work combining psychology, public health and management, she engages in community development activities such as the La Trobe Cafe Club, mentoring doctors’ research skills in WA, and engaging in Science Communications on Twitter (@MIKendrick94).
- Collings, Swanson & Watkins (2014). The impact of peer mentoring on levels of student wellbeing, integration and retention: a controlled comparative evaluation of residential students in UK higher education. Higher Education. 68(6), pp 927-942.
- Leidenfrost, Strassnig, Schütz, Carbon, & Schabmann. (2014). The Impact of Peer Mentoring on Mentee Academic Performance: Is Any Mentoring Style Better than No Mentoring at All?. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 26(1), pp 102-111.
- Phillips (2009). The Impact of Peer Mentoring in UK Higher Education. [THESIS]. Sup: Swanson, V. University of Stirling; Department of Psychology, School of Natural Sciences. Accessed from; https://dspace.stir.ac.uk/handle/1893/2290#.W1As8tIzbIU