Five years since its pivotal name change and rebranding from Graduates of the Last Decade to IEEE Young Professionals, the program continues to deliver an engaging experience for those IEEE members who have received their first professional degree in the past 15 years. Thanks to the efforts of a globally diverse group of volunteers, IEEE Young Professionals members have myriad ways to connect with like-minded peers and mentors, both online and in person.
Since 2013, 61 Young Professionals groups have been formed in all 10 IEEE regions—an increase of 36 percent. There are 229 groups in more than 80 countries. Each consists of a local leadership team, which creates opportunities for YP members to connect within their local section through professional development events, educational workshops, networking mixers, hackathons, humanitarian initiatives, and more. Some of the events held this year include an Internet of Medical Things workshop, in Tunisia; a networking opportunity in El Salvador; and the Pacific Northwest Leadership Summit, in Canada.
YP representatives to IEEE societies and councils are finding innovative ways to engage members at technical conferences through mentorship and networking sessions. The events bring together graduate students and young members working in industry with senior leaders, harnessing the strength of the IEEE member network. An IEEE International Conference on Communication meet and greet, the SS12 International Project Competition and Maker Fair, and the Young Professionals in Space initiative were just some of the events this year.
For the past several years, the YP group has partnered with the IEEE Awards program to organize signature events at the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit and IEEE Honors Ceremony. This event—attended by guest speakers, award recipients, volunteers, and local members—provides young professionals with opportunities to meet luminaries in technology. Next year’s event will be held 17 May in San Diego.
DIVERSITY DRIVES CREATIVITY
One remarkable aspect of the YP program is that it is run by motivated volunteers, whose creativity is supported by a global leadership team that embraces both ethnic and gender diversity. The IEEE Young Professionals committee includes members from all 10 regions and 33 societies and councils.
This year 15 percent of all local YP groups were led by a female chair, and 30 percent of the committee’s members are women. Since the beginning of the program in 1996, the committee has been chaired by members from nearly every region—two of whom have been women.
The program supports multinational leadership training events, known as regional congresses, where YP leaders from different sections in each region come together every few years to exchange ideas and foster cross-sectional partnerships. The goals of the congresses are simple: engage with peers from a variety of backgrounds and bring home ideas to improve the YP member experience in your local section.
YP leaders in each region teamed up this year with leaders from IEEE Women in Engineering affinity groups, as well as those who run IEEE student branches, to organize multiday training events featuring talks, panel discussions, poster sessions, and social activities. They include the annual IEEE-USA Future Leaders Forum and the IEEE Rising Stars conference for Regions 1 to 6. A multigeneration workshop was held in conjunction with Region 7’s congress. Regions 8, 9, and 10 held congresses in Portugal, Mexico, and Bali, respectively.
Regional events continue to thrive year after year, thanks to YP volunteers’ energy and enthusiasm. The motivated volunteers enjoy working with peers from around the world.
The staggering 36 percent growth in the formation of local YP groups is a clear indication of the impact the regional congresses have on volunteers, who return to their home section full of new ideas they can implement locally.
IEEE member retention is statistically higher among members who participate in the congresses. More than 85 percent of those who attended the IEEE Rising Stars event for the past three years have renewed their IEEE membership, compared with the 65 percent average retention rate across IEEE.
NEW VOLUNTEER PORTAL
The IEEE Young Professionals committee in 2017 launched a multiyear business plan to develop new products and services that could provide YP members with tangible benefits. The products and services are being designed to support members’ professional growth while offering new ways to get involved in the organization in a manner that suits their 21st-century lifestyle.
The IEEE microvolunteering portal is one such initiative. The platform went live in September, with 23 sections and societies participating in the soft launch as well as chapters of the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu honor society. The portal lets members search, browse, and discover short-term volunteer opportunities. The options are diverse and vary in time commitment, from just a few hours to several weeks. The goal is to give young members ways to get involved.
Available opportunities include assisting with organizing events, creating marketing materials, finding a sponsor to fund an event, writing blog posts, reviewing articles for publication, and building websites.
The microvolunteering portal also fosters collaboration among peers from around the world. IEEE members can explore online forums, connect with volunteers locally or abroad, and shape their technical and professional network. By getting involved in volunteering, YP members can take an active role in shaping the organization to ensure that it maintains its relevance to young engineers and scientists.
NEW AWARD FOR YOUNG LEADERS
This year IEEE established the IEEE Theodore W. Hissey Outstanding Young Professional Award to recognize an outstanding Young Professional leader for his or her technical and volunteer contributions. It is slated to be presented for the first time at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony in May.
The award is a bold statement by IEEE. It highlights the significance that Young Professionals members play in the organization, as well as their contributions as leaders who embrace diversity to bring the engineering community together.