How eMentoring Can Help You and Your Company

In the final installment of this three part series, Steve Welby, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE),  talks about how eMentoring can benefit organizational culture and engagement, seen in his webinar on “How IEEE Uses STEM eMentoring to Help Inspire the Next Generation of Engineers”.

How did you get interested in engineering?

I’ve had a very productive career in engineering. I’ve been Chief Operating Officer of a very large organization. I’ve been involved with design. I’ve worked on cutting edge research work. I’ve led very large teams.

But, when I was in my elementary and middle school years, I think back on my family and the folks I met in the neighborhood and people I knew. They all worked with their hands. We were a blue-collar family. I am struck that I met a neighbor that was an engineer, who took time to share with me some documents, magazines, and journals that he had kicking around the house. He looked like everyone else.

When I think back on my own personal history, I think that meeting someone who looked like me, looked like he was doing something I could do, changed the direction of my life from being science and math I was interested in but didn’t know anyone who did to being something I could imagine myself doing as a career.  I think that that is an enormous opportunity for young people to get that exposure.

What message might you have for companies that might be interested in becoming a sponsor for TryEngineering Together?

One of the things that excites me about TryEngineering Together is how it not only addresses the students’ needs, but it addresses corporate C-suite needs. Particularly, those thinking about integrating these activities into their overall corporate social responsibility program.

TryEngineering Together supports community outreach, not just locally, but around the country and around the world.  To be able to remotely touch communities in which the organization has interest and engagement but may not have technical professionals co-residing in those communities. I can multiply the impact of my staff remotely using tools like eMentoring.

It is a great way to engage employees. Feedback that I get from our face-to-face mentoring programs is that it is highly motivational. Employees come back charged up. They feel connected with their communities; they feel connected to their profession. They contribute on the job, as well as, in that volunteer capacity. 

It’s a significant attractor to employees that they are directly engaged in this important work. But again, it is often difficult to do.

Participation rates are challenged by those who can take the time and be taken out of work to do these kinds of things. Tools like eMentoring allow you to expand those positive benefits from employee engagement to a much larger portion of your workforce. The scalability of this program allows it to be rolled out with minimal impact.

The work that has gone on across the TryEngineering Together teams delivers a fully integrated package to the employers. This is not a pickup game. There isn’t a lot required of sponsors to invest in getting prepped and started. The schools are prepared, the material is prepared, the connections are ready. So, you can just bring the folks that you would like to contribute to it.  I think that is a real win for everybody. 

What would you share with an employee who might be interested in volunteering?

I would urge anyone considering volunteering with TryEngineering Together to watch some of the videos on the TryEngineering Together site. Videos where mentors, mentees, and teachers share their experiences. Mentees not only help children but they truly enjoy the experience as well. (jw note: I added in the 1st sentence)

It also offers opportunities for visibility. When I would go out and visit folks, in a previous life, I would love to brag about the great work that our employees were doing with schools in the community and the variety of programs that we had.  This is a great way to demonstrate the responsibility of your brand of your organization. To be able to communicate your values through your direct engagement.

Any final remarks?

In short, TryEngineering Together is just a fantastic program that does both good for the students engaged, does good for the communities engaged, and has a great return to the organizations involved.

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