Mentoring Program Updates

Hello Everyone!

Today’s blog is an update on the progress so far from our mentoring program!

Our initial survey was a hit – we had many graduate students indicate they were interested in having a mentor, and we were able to gauge what types of mentors people wanted.  We took this information/some feedback from our graduates and mentors that signed up initially, and we were able to narrow down some of the important aspects of mentor pairs from a graduate perspective.  As a result, we created two new surveys (these MUST be filled out in order to be assigned a mentor!):

 

For Mentors: https://goo.gl/forms/BquyV6ez1fvGRqB43

 

For Graduate Mentees: https://goo.gl/forms/BXTYWIjV8Dj2OC6k2

 

At this time, we are still low on mentors (especially in academia and government), so we are currently waiting for more mentors to sign up in order to pair students interested in these areas with a match!  If you know anyone who may be a good candidate to mentor for this program – please spread the word!  One of the things that impresses me the most about SWE is the ability to access such a huge network of dedicated people who are always willing to help build up our STEM community.  I have been able to access some great committees/ regions/ sections that have been very helpful in promoting this initiative to our membership!

The process of developing a mentoring program takes time to implement, since we are building this for the first time.  There will be another round of mentor pairings sent out within the week for mentor/mentee approval, but for some students with specific requests/ specialized fields, this process is taking a bit of time to find the right match.  I sincerely thank those that have signed up for their continued patience!

Some people have expressed interest in meeting and discussing this program/ meeting other people who have signed up at WE 16!  Though some mentors have set up lunch/ a meeting with their mentees already, another option for this is to join us at our GradSWE meeting on Thursday, October 27th from 10:15 AM to 12:00 PM and meet other students who are involved in mentoring!  We will also be setting up an online group in the near future for mentoring – so anyone who fills out this new survey will be sent the link to access the group if they so choose.  Remember, if you have not filled out the new survey above, you will not be assigned a mentor, or gain access to the mentoring group.

I want to thank you all for your positive feedback and kind words supporting this initiative.  I have received so many wonderful emails and personal stories about how mentoring has impacted people, and how excited people are about the opportunity to try mentoring/ being mentored through GradSWE!  I am so happy that as a result of this program, I am also able to get to know some of you on a personal level as well.   I  hope to get to meet many of you at WE 16!

 

Sincerely,

Genevieve

 

For questions or comments regarding the mentoring program, please email gradswementoring@gmail.com or grad-coordinator-elect@swe.org

New GradSWE Student Mentoring Program

Hello GradSWE Community!

My name is Genevieve Kane – and I’m proud to be your GMC-Elect this year!  For my first blog post, I wanted to talk to you about one of the ideas that I am spearheading and hoping to develop for the GradSWE Community – a mentoring program!

Mentoring can come in many different forms, which is something that I’ve personally learned and experienced throughout my academic career.  I remember the first time I was exposed to the idea of having a mentor was when I participated in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a pre-engineering program offered through my high school.  In this program, we had a class called Engineering Design and Development (EDD), which allowed a team of high school engineers to find something they thought was a problem, and come up with a unique, technical solution to that problem (that has never been used or patented).  Every group was assigned a mentor, who was there to guide the team to a successful end to their project.  I remember struggling with this concept – not knowing what questions I COULD ask, SHOULD ask, or what I should really discuss when I met with this very wise, professional engineer.  Thankfully, over the years I have been fortunate enough to keep in contact with this wise mentor, and many others, as I became a mentor myself in PLTW, overseeing EDD projects.

Even though I wasn’t comfortable with asking questions and seeking advice in high school, there came a time in my undergraduate education where I didn’t have a choice anymore.  I think we have all experienced that point in our career where we reach a point that we hit some barrier – be it academic, personal, etc.  In my case, it was a specific professor who spent an entire lecture discussing why girls weren’t good at science.  At that point, I had no other undergraduate females in my STEM major, and no one to really talk to about how that made me feel.  So, I walked upstairs and I showed up at the office door of one of my female professors.  I must have waited ten minutes in the hallway before I had the courage to knock, but when I did, she welcomed me into her office with open arms, ready and willing to listen to what happened to me, and express her distaste that these situations were still happening in schools.  I remember that she told me it wasn’t anything I did wrong – and that I was a perfectly fine student who just needed to keep going to the finish.  I did, and on occasion, I would stop by and chat with her to discuss my progress, or ask advice about things like careers, graduate school, or how to deal with some issues that came up that might be unique to women.

Thankfully, by graduate school, I became more comfortable with the idea of asking for guidance and help.  I’ve attended two graduate schools, and in both I’ve received amazing guidance from professors that have helped me along the way.  I’ve found a plethora of good mentor relationships, including my very supportive and amazing advisor who always seems to know what to say when I need it, and even some graduate students who have gone through programs before me that continue to provide me with support and guidance along the way.  I feel very happy to say that I’ve even been able to dole out some sage advice to newer graduate students, professionals, and young engineering students alike, and maintain contacts with many of these people over time.

So – what’s the point?  My story is not so uncommon, it seems.  It takes time to become comfortable in your own skin, and to build relationships with your colleagues.  I’ve been approached by a lot of students over time, that have said they wished they had someone to talk to for guidance, and didn’t know who to turn to, or what type of relationship they even wanted to establish.  Just that they really wanted to have some guidance in their lives, and that it would be great if there was some way to help them make those contact.

My hope is that, by starting a mentoring program for graduate students, we can do something about this in our own SWE community.  In SWE, graduate students are everywhere – they exist as collegiate members, sometimes they have their own GradSWE groups, and half of graduate student members are part of the professional sections!  SWE has a lot of opportunity to offer mentorship to graduate students, with many potential matches available.   We, as graduate student, can also help mentor others, since we have had different experiences in life than some professionals who may be looking to head back to graduate school, undergraduates who might want someone to look up to, or even our graduate peers.

How do we start?  We are hoping to start by finding interested graduate students and professionals members in our community.  If you’re interested, consider filling out this survey:

https://goo.gl/forms/C1yZQXIAfrtfVPGn1

Once we have figured out the interest in different mentoring pairs, we will send out a specific application to those individuals so that we can assign good mentoring pairs.  Not all people will want the same experience or relationship with a mentor – some people may just want someone to contact by email if they have questions about their job hunt, or school hunt!  Others might want to meet in person, or work towards specific, set goals that their mentor can help them with.  We will do our best to match people up based on their interest level, and whether they prefer a local mentor, or someone that they can reach out to in another SWE region.  Our hope is that we can get pairs set up for WE ’16, so that a meeting can be arranged!

Thank you all for reading – and if you have any questions, please email me at grad-coordinator-elect@swe.org!  Hope you are having a productive, and fun summer!

Sincerely,

Genevieve