Flavia Dinca: Helping Busy Members Get Involved With IEEE

She’s spearheading an effort to promote flexible volunteering options

4 December 2017

Time for most of us is in short supply. And when you’re just starting on your career and working long hours, there’s practically no time to spare. But members who do have a few extra hours to volunteer often are unaware of which IEEE programs could use their help.

What if you could volunteer for just a few hours or for a weekend? And what if you could find all the opportunities listed on a single online platform, along with the amount of time and skills each endeavor requires?

That’s the aim of the microvolunteering program proposed by the IEEE Young Professionals group. Members of IEEE Young Professionals are part of a pilot program; the goal is to expand it so that all IEEE members can benefit.

According to the 2016 IEEE member segmentation study, which gauged members’ satisfaction with IEEE’s products and services, 80 percent of young professionals—those who are 18 to 35 years old—say they want to be more engaged with the organization but can’t find a way to do so. And no wonder. For existing volunteering roles, the average time commitment is between one and two years.

The microvolunteering effort is being spearheaded by IEEE Young Professionals’ vice chair of communications, IEEE Member Flavia Dinca. She is busy herself, and not just because she’s pursuing a master’s degree in information security from Stockholm University. Dinca is the group’s representative for Regions 7, 8, 9, and 10, and she’s on the IEEE ad hoc committee on engagement in Europe, which works to expand IEEE’s connection with the continent’s engineering community.

In this interview with The Institute, Dinca discusses how she hopes to make IEEE more appealing to younger members and how the organization has benefited her.

Tell us more about microvolunteering.

The idea is that IEEE should adapt its volunteering opportunities so busy members can get involved. So many young people are moving from university to the workplace, or raising children, and their lives can be really hectic. We want to welcome even small contributions. And we want to make it easier for members to know what volunteering opportunities are available.

The program will help them choose the right level of commitment based on their interests and skills, and the amount of time they’re willing and able to spend. Such opportunities might include organizing a conference and developing a website for local IEEE groups.

IEEE Young Professionals will launch a microvolunteering online platform next year. IEEE groups will post descriptions of tasks that must be done, including details, like the skills needed. Each listing will include a contact person for more information.

What is IEEE doing for recent graduates?

IEEE Young Professionals is trying to add more benefits for them. Several new programs for doing this are in our business plan. They include offering discounts on technical content, increasing the number of our networking events and meetings, and launching a program to recognize young professionals who volunteer.

Why did you get involved with IEEE?

I joined as a student member at the University of Southampton, England, in 2011, because some of my close friends belonged to its IEEE student branch. I wasn’t in the engineering program at the time. The student branch was looking for a publicity officer, so I volunteered.

Once I graduated, I began to pursue a master’s degree in information security. IEEE made the transition from sociology easier because it gave me an insider’s view of the technical world.

How has IEEE benefited you the most?

A lot of my colleagues say that access to the latest technical information is the most important benefit. But for me, it’s the chance to network and develop my soft skills. Volunteering with IEEE can give young professionals the chance to make mistakes and learn from others before they try things at their job.

At the end of the day, what really sets IEEE apart from other organizations is how incredibly diverse its members are.

This article appears in the December 2017 print issue as “Helping Busy Members Get Involved With IEEE.”

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

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

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