The mentoring task force within VTS successfully organized a micro-mentoring program at the IEEE VTC2023-Spring conference. The program aimed to convey the benefits of IEEE membership and engage young professionals. Mentees showed excitement and interest in volunteering opportunities, while mentors found the experience rewarding. Despite the lack of volunteers, VTS plans to continue and improve this initiative in the future, with support from the VTS board.
Article contributed by
Pasan Pethiyagode, Chair at IEEE YP Mentoring Task Force
Taimoor Abbas, IEEE Vehicular Technology Society YP Representative
The IEEE Young Professionals Mentoring Task Force is excited to explore the potential of successful mentoring efforts. This article shares insights from a discussion with volunteers who recently completed a successful mentoring program during an IEEE Vehicular Technology Society (VTS) technical conference.
Pasan : Why did VTS believe that mentoring could be a valuable program to host within a technical conference?
Taimoor: Every year, new members join IEEE, many of whom join solely to take advantage of member discounts when attending one of IEEE’s flagship conferences or for journal publications. However, we believe that IEEE has much more to offer its members, whether they are student members, professional members, or senior fellows.
It is important to properly communicate to both new and existing members how IEEE can help them grow in their careers as students or professionals. Micro-mentoring is one approach that can effectively convey this message through short and meaningful interactions. As a result, the VTS-YP subcommittee decided to host a micro-mentoring booth at the IEEE VTC2023-Spring conference.
You may wonder why Young Professionals were chosen for this initiative. It is because young professionals are at the intersection of transitioning from student members to professional members. Therefore, it is natural for VTS-YP to take the lead in organizing such an event with support from senior leadership within the society.
Pasan: What was the format of the mentoring program?
Taimoor: We set up a booth at the IEEE VTC2023-Spring conference in Italy, which was located near the registration desk. At the booth, we had two posters: one explaining VTS membership status and another showing charts depicting member demographics and affiliations, such as academia or industry.
On the first day, we assisted with registration by distributing conference proceedings from our booth. On the second and third days, we offered giveaways, gifts, and city travel maps at our booth to attract conference attendees. These served as icebreakers, helping students to overcome barriers and engage in discussion. We started conversations by asking a simple Pasan: “Do you know how IEEE can help you in your career?”
The IEEE VTS-YP Chair remained at the booth, while VTS board members such as the VP-membership, VTS-president, the secretary, and the conference committee provided great assistance with organization and on-site support.
Pasan: Did the mentees provide positive feedback?
Taimoor: The mentees were enthusiastic to learn more about IEEE, its benefits, and the possibilities of contributing as volunteers. We discussed their engagement using the IEEE volunteering platform, which most of them were not aware of. After a brief discussion, you could see the excitement in their eyes and their eagerness to be part of IEEE right from the start of their careers.
Pasan: What were the mentors’ thoughts after the event?
Taimoor: It was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, as the VTS-YP chair, I was the only host and mentor. We reached out for volunteers using the conference registration list and to local VTS members in Italy, but we were unsuccessful in finding volunteers for the micro-mentoring booth. The VTS-YP subcommittee was also formed late, so we couldn’t invite anyone from the committee. Nevertheless, it was our first experience, and we can plan and organize it better in the future.
Pasan: Is VTS pleased to continue this initiative?
Taimoor: The VTS board greatly appreciates the efforts of VTS-YP in organizing this micro-mentoring event. We have their full support in organizing future events to increase engagement among existing members and attract new members as well. Next year, our aim is to organize a joint event involving IEEE VTS-YP, IEEE VTS-Women, and the IEEE VTS-Education committee.
Pasan Pethiyagode is serving as Chair at IEEE YP Mentoring Task Force. He is currently Railway Signalling Power Engineer at Alstom Transport UK and Co-founder of WRENS Inc.
Taimoor Abbas is IEEE YP Representative (Liaisons & Representatives) of Vehicular Technology Society. He is currently with InterDigital as Senior Staff Researcher and experienced professional in wireless communication industry.