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Meet a Mentor, Be a Mentor in 5 Minutes

Remember when you were just starting out, maybe in your early 20s, and a more experienced engineer took you under their wing, helped you navigate those first few years of your career, and always had from-the-field words of wisdom to share? I bet now, looking back, you can really appreciate all that they did for you, even though it was basic stuff like showing you how to properly solder or request design resources in a corporate environment or letting you shadow them at an event. These people, be they formally or informally, are mentors, and those of us who have had them in our lives are lucky. Or maybe you are a young engineer, looking for such career guidance.

Mentoring seems to be almost a natural instinct for engineers. Engineers see someone in need of a helping hand and step in, just like they would if a design needed help.

But, still, it's a time consuming act that, if done long term, can require significant commitment. And let's be honest, not every person out there is looking to learn (or is worth your time). So how do you find these folks to pass your own words of wisdom onto and how do you find the time? Or, if you are looking for a mentor, how do you locate someone willing to help?

At previous events managed by EDN's parent company, UBM, including Embedded Systems Conferences and DesignCon, EDN, and its sister brand EE Times has held what we call “Mentor Meet-ups,” where we open the door to young engineers and experienced engineers with an invitation to casually network, ask each other questions, and possibly form working relationships.

This time around we are taking a more structured approach. We're keeping the event small and following a more “speed networking” approach. Our younger participants will spends a few minutes with each more practiced engineer, chatting, asking questions, and discussing careers, then move from seat A to seat B, and so on, giving everyone a direct opportunity to meet. That will be followed by an open breakfast where more casual networking can take place.

We're reaching out to local universities and young professionals in the Santa Clara area as attendees, and we're looking for more experienced engineers, as well, who want to share their smarts and get an idea of who will be sitting in your chair in 10, 20, or 30 years.

While we are keeping this event small and registration is required, no one is obligated to be a mentor or mentee after this speed mentoring session. What we are doing is opening a space to allow connections to be made. You can take it from there.

If you are a more practiced engineer who wants to participate, post a comment below or email me at suzanne.deffree@ubm.com. If you are a young gun, visit this page to register for DesignCon Next-Generation Day, which will host the speed mentoring session and also includes a mid-day Next generation Engineering panel with some under 25-year-old engineering rock stars, a closing-day networking session, and some goodies to take home.

Hope to see you there.

DesignCon Speed Mentoring session
Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.
Location TBD
Young engineers register for the networking event and Next Gen day here. Experienced engineers email or comment below.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EDN.

10 comments on “Meet a Mentor, Be a Mentor in 5 Minutes

  1. Ariella
    January 7, 2015

    The Mentor-Meetup sounds like a great opportunity for people to network and gain the insight obtained from experience. It would be nice for a whole range of professions, not just engineers. 

  2. Daniel
    January 8, 2015

    “Remember when you were just starting out, maybe in your early 20s, and a more experienced engineer took you under their wing, helped you navigate those first few years of your career, and always had from-the-field words of wisdom to share? I bet now, looking back, you can really appreciate all that they did for you, even though it was basic stuff like showing you how to properly solder or request design resources in a corporate environment or letting you shadow them at an event. These people, be they formally or informally, are mentors, and those of us who have had them in our lives are lucky.”

    Suzzane, you are right about the influence of mentors in life. I also had one mentor, who protected and guided during the initial stage of my career. Whatever things he taught during that period is still inherited in me; eventhough some of the things are not suited with current way of doing the work. But  still I am not able to change it; I think it's just like a mindset, which gone in deepen way.

  3. Daniel
    January 8, 2015

    “The Mentor-Meetup sounds like a great opportunity for people to network and gain the insight obtained from experience. It would be nice for a whole range of professions, not just engineers. “

    Ariella, mentors can be everywhere like engineering, business, Healthcare, Academics etc. Those who guide us in initial stage of career are normally called Mentors. These career paths may be different for different set of peoples.

  4. Susan Fourtané
    January 9, 2015

    Suzanne, 

    The mentoring session sounds wonderful. It's a great opportunity for both parts.

    The young engineer gets valuable insight from the experienced engineer; at the same time, the mentor can see how a younger engineer does and sees things today in the light of all the technology available, which most likely was not there when he was starting his career.

    I believe it's a learning experience in both directions. How nice. 🙂 

    -Susan

  5. FLYINGSCOT
    January 9, 2015

    I applaud this initiative and am only sorry that I am 5000 miles away otherwise I'd be there.  I hope it it well attended and everyone has fun.

  6. Ariella
    January 9, 2015

    @flyingscot maybe it can be expanded to include video-conferencing for those who can't come in person but want to participate.

  7. Susan Fourtané
    January 9, 2015

    Ariella, 

    Now, that's a good idea. It would have a great international impact. 

    -Susan

  8. Ariella
    January 9, 2015

    @Susan Yes, and perhaps even create some better cross-cultural understanding to, say, connect someone from India with someone from the US.

  9. Susan Fourtané
    January 9, 2015

    Ariella, 

    Indeed. That would be really helpful especially to the engineers working in international environments where sometimes there are some cross-cultural business misunderstandings. 

    -Susan

  10. Ariella
    January 9, 2015

    @Susan yes, in general that kind of thing would be helpful, even to learn who expects to be greeted with a handshake and addressed by first name upon introduction and who expect a different standard of behavior.

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