The SWE Mentor Network is a private network for SWE members that helps facilitate mentoring relationships. Thanks to Keysight Foundation for funding the SWE Mentor Network! Keep reading to learn about how mentoring helped others enhance their WE20 experience and why you should get involved during WE21.
Last year’s WE20 was SWE’s first Annual Conference that took place entirely online, presenting virtual content over a two week period from November 2-13, 2020. Attendees primarily interacted with one another through chat during both live and recorded speaker presentations, as well as networking lounges. Some SWE members found themselves wanting to engage further and turned to the newly launched SWE Mentor Network, where they could meet one-on-one on a video or phone call to receive or provide mentoring.
When reflecting on her WE20 experience, Ester Bergen of the Pacific Northwest SWE Section said, “I think [the SWE Mentor Network] filled a gap that existed with the virtual conference. There’s no hallway to meet people or a place to interact between sessions when you’re virtual.” Similarly, Orange Country SWE Section member Natalie White expressed, “Having the interaction of the mentoring sessions helped me feel more engaged with others who were also attending the conference.”
This year’s Annual Conference WE21 is a hybrid event, including both onsite programming and virtual content. For all attendees, and especially those who opted for a virtual-only ticket, the SWE Mentor Network is a way to be more involved. For Derya Tansel, a member of the Carnegie-Mellon University SWE Section, being a mentor allowed for a more personalized conference experience. She said, “I felt like I had a contribution to the conference. That one-on-one time made it easier to connect with people at the conference.”
Mentees can browse a directory of available mentors and filter the results by industry, as well as conversation topics such as applying to grad school or choosing positions & companies to work for. Mentee Cassondra Peterson of the Florida Institute of Technology SWE Section utilized the platform during WE20 to meet with women in engineering roles at medical device companies. Cassondra stated, “They all helped me gain confidence in my background, gave advice on how to both network and job hunt, and gave backgrounds on their career paths to help show me all the different turns your career path can have to get you where you want to be!”
Whether you join the SWE Mentor Network as a mentor or mentee, Sarah Koenig of the Hartford SWE Section believes it is a great way to make connections. She explained, “It can help replace that 1:1 personal connection for those who are attending virtually, which is something that I think we’ve all missed during the pandemic. With the Annual Conference theme of “Aspire to Inspire,” joining the SWE Mentor Network is a great way to be a part of that, whether you are the one doing the inspiring or being inspired.”
Register for WE21 here and visit the recently updated SWE Mentoring site to find out how to join the SWE Mentor Network! Mentoring is available during two-week long cohorts that take place throughout the year, with the WE21 cohort scheduled for October 18-29, 2021.