Young Professionals Say Career Development Programs Are Top Priority

Most who join IEEE after graduation rely on the organization for support

5 December 2017

There are many reasons to join IEEE, including access to technical research and conferences; networking and volunteer opportunities; and benefits. But for young professionals just starting their journey in the workplace, career development is number one.

That’s according to a study conducted last year for IEEE Young Professionals in which members were asked what they were looking for from the organization. The results were clear: Young professionals want resources to help them land a job and move up the career ladder once they’re in the workforce. The findings validated that the Young Professionals business plan  is on track to better serve members.

“IEEE is listening to what young professionals want so we can improve their membership experience,” says Lisa Delventhal, manager of the IEEE Young Professionals program, in Piscataway, N.J. “We want to make the Young Professionals program something members cannot step away from—one that is invaluable to their career.”

HEAR THEM OUT

One key finding of the study is that graduates entering the workforce might not understand what career planning and development is. Recent grads rated their career planning efforts at 35 or lower out of a possible score of 100. They used words such as uncertain and cloudy to describe their plans.

Moreover, young professionals want to hear personal stories about how others navigated their career paths and the choices they made along the way. “They want a personal connection with members, not a commercial about why being part of IEEE is so great,” says Kristen Mahan, program specialist of IEEE Young Professionals.

Respondents said they want to build their professional reputation—not just in their workplace but also in the engineering field.

They also have a number of career concerns including difficulty in finding a job out of college, paying off student debt, and starting a family. As one study participant said: “Have a dream but also a Plan B.”

AVAILABLE RESOURCES

To help its members do well in their careers, the Young Professionals program is making a concerted effort to connect members to one another, both locally in person and virtually, and to increase awareness of available resources.

The resources include the IEEE Job Site, which lists open positions, and the IEEE Resume­Lab, which can help members write better résumés and cover letters. Both can be found on IEEE Collabratec, where members can join its IEEE Young Professionals community, which now includes more than 12,000 people. There they can learn about professional development opportunities, IEEE products and services, and upcoming conferences.

Members can use IEEE Collabratec to join technical forums, co-author articles with researchers from around the world, and get involved in projects that offer exposure in the engineering community.

IEEE Collabratec also offers mentoring services. Members can search for a potential mentor based on a technical specialty and the language spoken. A mentor can help with career planning and offer advice on continuing-education courses. Young professionals can sign up to be a mentor—which not only looks good on their résumé but also can help them grow their personal network and gain valuable experience.

As one member said in the study, “Having this kind of support provides peace of mind.”

This article appears in the December 2017 print issue as “Professional Development is Key.”

This article is part of our December 2017 special issue on young professionals.

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