IEEE’s MentorCentre program will be closing its doors by the end of the year now that IEEE Collabratec has added mentoring services to what it offers. IEEE Collabratec’s suite of online tools allows IEEE members and technology professionals around the world to network, collaborate, and discover new career opportunities—all within a centralized hub.
“Through IEEE Collabratec we’ll now be able to expand mentoring to all IEEE members including students and society affiliates,” says Charmain Williams, global career resources product manager for IEEE Member and Geographic Activities, who oversees the mentoring program. (A society affiliate is a member of an IEEE society but not of IEEE.)
New would-be mentors can sign in to Collabratec by going to the Settings tab in “Opportunities” on its main navigation menu. They can set their preferences there, such as whether they prefer to mentor professionals or students, and list the languages they speak and the technical and business areas in which they specialize.
New mentees should use the People search feature to find a potential mentor. Once one has been found, hit the Connect button next to the mentor’s name and select Request Mentor. The mentor is free to accept or reject the request.
It’s possible to have multiple mentoring partnerships simultaneously. For example, a graduate student might want to mentor an undergrad while receiving advice from a seasoned professional on how to move into a new career.
Old MentorCentre partners can reestablish their mentoring relationships within IEEE Collabratec by first signing up with it. Mentors can then activate their settings to be discoverable as an IEEE mentor. Mentees, however, must conduct a People search to find their mentor, and send a connection request (Request Mentor) to reestablish the partnership.
“Members, as well as mentor and mentee, can create their own private groups within IEEE Collabratec, so they have a secure place to communicate,” Williams points out. Private groups, which are by invitation only, allow participants to have discussions and create, organize, share, and collaborate on content. Users have the option of receiving notifications when there is activity in their private group.
Mentoring participants also can communicate via direct messaging, which is critical for a mentoring partnership,” Williams notes. This feature did not exist in the old mentorship program. And mentors and mentees can refer back to an archive of previous discussions.
At least two mentors like what they see in the new platform.
“Forming a private group–based mentor-mentee relationship with Collaboratec, rather than having to do it one-to-one, saves time and provides a new value to mentoring,” says Senior Member Tharak Abraham, chief engineer at AT&T Services in Bangalore, India. And adds IEEE Senior Member Chintan Oza, senior principal with Tata Communications in Mumbai, India, “The platform enables me to better engage with mentees.” Oza mentors professionals “to help them achieve personal and professional growth and to discover more about their profession and themselves.”
In any case, it’s important for the mentor to set clear goals for the relationship, Abraham points out, and for the mentee to communicate periodically how he or she is doing on completing those goals.
IEEE provides guidelines on how to make a mentoring partnership effective.