IEEE Young Professionals is the new name of the group formerly known as IEEE Graduates of the Last Decade—or GOLD, for short. The IEEE Member and Geographic Activities (MGA) Board approved the name change in June, and it went into effect throughout the organization at the IEEE November Board Series.
Established in 1998, the program helps bring recent graduates together to network, develop professional skills, and find jobs. Members who qualify are automatically affiliated with the group when they sign up for or renew IEEE membership. In 2013, the group had more than 64 000 members.
But GOLD had a problem: The name didn’t resonate with the people it was meant to engage, says Ralph Ford, vice president of MGA, which oversees what is now IEEE Young Professionals. The new name, on the other hand, describes just what its members are—young professionals.
“We hope the name change will help our members recognize that they belong to a global professional community that can support their career needs from early on,” Ford says. “The goal is to make the community more visible as well as support members and prepare them for leadership positions.”
So far, the rebranding seems to be working. After the Toronto IEEE GOLD group made the name switch in November, it sold out an event held at a restaurant, attracting more than 300 people, many of whom were first-time attendees. Usually, its events drew an average of 60 people.
The new name also comes with updated criteria. In the past year, it became apparent that members did not have enough time to take full advantage of the benefits due to the requirement that they can only join within 10 years of completing a first degree. Thus, that time period has been extended to 15 years after graduation. This change will take effect on 15 August.
"After graduation is a time of great transition for young professionals, which includes first jobs, marriage, moving, buying a new home, starting families, and, in some parts of the world, serving in the military,” says Ford. “They have so much going on at this time. We want to give them the time to take full advantage of the benefits and support them.”
With the new change, members can also stay affiliated with the group beyond the 15 years or opt out before then, depending on their individual needs, Ford says.
Being part of the community comes with many perks, says Timothy Wong, 2014 chair of the IEEE Young Professionals Committee.
“These include meaningful networking opportunities on a local and global scale,” he says. “And we want to help our members grow their leadership skills. IEEE Young Professionals is about helping them advance in their careers.”
Many Young Professionals' resources are tailored to help members move up the career ladder. These resources include MentorCentre, which connects professionals just starting out with mentors who are experienced engineers in similar fields of interest. And live webinars tailored to the needs of job seekers cover such topics as how to have a successful job interview and using social media for the job hunt.
There are also social events, such as barbecues, bowling tournaments, and even a trip to a trampoline park with the Santa Clara, Calif., affinity group. Members can find out more about what’s going on in their communities by contacting their local affinity group.
For more information about the transition of GOLD to IEEE Young Professionals, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.