It's always the right time to be a role model. Here are two ways to get ready
Anytime is the right time to spark the interest of a future engineer, but perhaps you feel particularly called to role model when you know January is National Mentoring Month and February features National Engineer's Week, and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day?
If you're anything like me, at first I'm excited to volunteer for something, particularly when I know the need is great, but as the day approaches, I get cold feet. I start to think, why did I sign myself up for this? And who can I send in my place?
I think my ambivalence comes from my innate desire to do things perfectly, which of course, is impossible. But I know I can be better (and calmer, more reassured) if I do a few things to prepare and boost my confidence. I have to get in a better frame of mind and convince my inner critic that I am in fact, qualified to volunteer and that I will be helpful. With a little preparation, I can nip a lot of that performance anxiety in the bud.
May I offer you two things to help you feel more confident and prepared, too?
SWE and Techbridge partnered on a multi-year project called Role Models Matter, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Together we customized Techbridge's home-grown and time-tested role model training, and we developed a resource guide to support SWE members doing outreach. The Engage, Connect, Inspire role model guide shares practical advice from the moment you're asked to role model, through the big event (interacting with your youth audience), to finish (reflecting on what went well, and what you want to improve for next time.)
But sometimes it's easier to put yourself in someone else's shoes, watch how they role model, and think about what you might do the same way or do differently. So, another piece of the Role Models Matter project are video modules. Techbridge filmed our real volunteer role models interacting with our own Techbridge girls in their afterschool clubs. I encourage you to watch a couple of the videos and think about what you would do in the same situation.
Check out one of our role models, structural engineer Consuelo Crosby, as she explains to her young audience what engineering is all about. Consuelo says that "Most of engineering is "I wonder if?"... I wonder if we can build a building to look like a sailboat?"
Another volunteer role model, Lyn Gomes, tells a high school audience, "As Engineers, we are curious people." Does that sound like something you would say? Would you describe engineering in a different way?
Whether you prefer to read or to watch, investing just ten minutes in our preparation materials will go a long way in your readiness to become a Role Model who truly Matters. Thank you in advance, and I welcome your feedback about what you want and need to become a more effective engineering role model. We are constantly updating our training, just as any good engineer would improve her design! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Role Modeling!
P.S. If you're interested in more Role Models Matter training, and happen to be in the Pacific Northwest section, Techbridge will be presenting at your regional ABJ2016 conference Saturday, February 20th. We also have provided Role Models Matter training resources to the Baltimore-Washington, Tucson, Boston, San Diego and North Carolina professional sections as well as the Universities of Alabama, Pennsylvania and Tennessee student sections. We'd love to connect with you there.
Techbridge Program Manager