Overview: A virtual community mentorship program for development in Colombia

virtual community mentorship

The number of astronomers in Colombia has increased in the last decade. However, the job opportunities that these astronomers have in the country are not numerous and often not widely known. Consequently, many highly educated professionals end up working in jobs where their skills are not applied. As a result, a considerable amount of the human potential that astronomy has to contribute in academic and non-academic jobs, both essential for the development of the country, is lost. Our program aims to tackle this problem using mentoring. This program is focused on providing support to students that are currently enrolled in astronomy or similar programs that are planning their careers. We will focus on the possible areas that astronomy can contribute to the region: 1) research; 2) education, 3) industry; and 4) equity. The program will connect students with professionals working in academia and industry to maximize their employability. In addition, we will strengthen the skills of the students so they will be able to reach their full potential. The program will have one-to-one mentoring between students and professionals. In these sessions, the students will be advised on job opportunities and on strengthening their job applications. We will also have panels discussing opportunities and necessary skills to work on the 4 areas mentioned above.

In addition, we also foresee two more outcomes relevant for development from our program:
1) Strengthen the connections within the Colombian astronomy community, of which a significant part live and work abroad, enhancing the development of more programs. e.g., the RECA internship program.
2) Often in academic settings, there is no encouragement to pursue careers outside academia. We want to change this tradition by encouraging students to pursue these jobs. By connecting them to potential employers, we will maximize the impact that astronomy can have in the country and hence contribute to its development.


Nicolás Garavito Camargo, jngaravitoc@email.arizona.edu