Student Perspectives – Graduated

Arnav Moudgil’s perspective

Mentorship can mean many things to different people. At WashU, the MSTP enables, and encourages, multiple forms of mentorship. During preclinical years, students have regular meetings with the program director to discuss research interests and potential thesis advisors. These sessions help to identify successful labs and plan rotations. In the graduate school years, direct mentorship becomes multifaceted. The MSTP pairs each student with a practicing clinician-scientist for longitudinal advising sessions during the research years. Within my DBBS graduate program, I met with program directors once every semester to discuss coursework, plan for the qualifying exam, and get feedback on assembling my thesis committee. After my thesis proposal, the committee became the de facto form of institutional mentorship. In addition to formal advisory meetings, my committee members have always been open to informal, one-on-one meetings for more nuanced feedback. Lastly, I’ve been fortunate to have a thesis advisor committed to strong and continuing mentorship of graduate students. I have a standing appointment, every week, with my advisor. This is an invaluable opportunity to discuss not merely data and results, but also career development and philosophy. I encourage all students to have such meetings if possible.

While the previous section covers a minimal set of formalized mentorships, numerous informal advisors abound. One of the great strengths of the WashU MSTP is its size, and, as a result, older students have a wealth of experience to offer. Between weekly seminars and annual events like the retreat and Winter Dinner, there are ample opportunities to seek out advice. Finally, the MSTP office staff of Brian, Christy, Liz, and Linda are experts in helping trainees navigate both their large and small day-to-day responsibilities. Altogether, MSTP students benefit from several generous and complementary mentorships.