First Published in the Huffington Post
In light of the diversity reports coming out these past 12 months from the top tech companies in the country such as Google and Linkedin, we hope that we all can jump into STEM mentoring to make sure women and minorities have the skills needed for the jobs. Almost all jobs will require some skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
We need to think BIG now about girls in STEM.
So we invite you, our STEM workforce (if you choose to accept this mission) to mentor in STEM skills.
But first, who is a mentee and how do I find one?
She is out there. Close your eyes and visualize:
A young woman/man who has reached out to you in the last three to six months for career help. Perhaps someone who works at your company.
Perhaps someone you met visiting a school, or who sent you a follow-up email that grabbed your attention.
A friend who asked you to meet with her daughter, sister or niece for career advice.
Maybe a young woman who left a B-level impression on you but was passed up for that internship or job at your company for a common error that you see in recent employee candidates.
A young woman at the gym, church, synagogue, or mosque who asked you about your career or how you balance it all.
A high school girl or college freshman who is just about to drop her STEM career dreams because she thinks it is difficult or because of peer pressure or lack of knowledge about how STEM course could change her life.
The young girl or woman introduced to you by a youth serving organization in your community, state, or online.
If you can’t visualize her, check out awesome organizations who reach out to over millions of girls like Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Science Olympiad, SkillUSA, YearUp and more.
To get the relationship off to a great start…
1. One to One — Start Simple
“I would like to invite you to meet for a cup of coffee or tea or a Skype chat.” See if there is chemistry and if you can work together towards specific educational and career goals with a skills-based approach.
2. If #1 goes well, the mentoring relationship begins. Set expectations right on the front end around goals and timetables.
3. Here are 5 suggest five pathways to build your mentoring program.
a. Face to face mentoring that includes a skills-based component and can include competitions. Peer mentoring (see leanin.org can make a world of difference for senior executives as well!)
b. Online mentoring (Skype, Google Chats, Lync, MentorNet.org, Email, Text, Chronus…)
c. Paid internships or apprenticeships with designated mentor for high school and college students or returning veterans
d. Establishing workplace mentoring of the young women who already work at your company and are getting their sea legs
e. Sponsorship — Men are 42 percent more likely to have a sponsor. Helping a young woman with key introductions for opportunities, networking, job interviews, internships and promotions
We advise that you as an individual or company chooses the appropriate pathway or a combination of pathways that suit your preferences and the preferences of your mentee.
Oh, and by the way, don’t underestimate the power of reverse mentoring and all you will learn from your mentee too!
Written by Julie Kantor, CEO Twomentor & Justin Miteng, Atlas Fellow
Twomentor, LLC works with companies to build MentoringCultures & Elevate Women in STEM.