CUGC Women in Tech Mentoring Program – Getting Ready for the Next Class!

by Jo Harder, CTP, CUGC Women In Tech Lead Mentor

“I really enjoy being a mentor in the CUGC community. It’s great to listen and help others grow in the field of technology in a way that’s important and special to them. This program brings people together in a way that’s building a network of remarkable individuals, and I am thankful to collaborate with such amazing women.”  –Theresa Miller, CTP, Founder of 24×7 IT Connection, LLC and CUGC Women in Tech Mentor

“I’ve been fortunate and thankful to have some wonderful mentors that helped guide me through the twists and turns of my career, and the CUGC WIT program provides the opportunity for me to do the same for others.”  –Jo Harder, Tampa CUGC Leader, CTP and CUGC Women in Tech Mentor

Enabling women, one at a time, to gain confidence and achieve goals is the focus of the CUGC Women in Technology mentoring program. But what exactly is the WIT program?

New Candidates

The WIT mentoring program is now open for new submissions. Candidates have the opportunity to express their interest in being mentored. As part of the submission, they must define some goals that the mentor/mentee relationship can address. 

Candidates should keep in mind that the mentorship does require several hours a month, plus a focus on achieving goals. We ask that candidates consider the time requirements carefully before applying because, unfortunately, some mentees later withdraw from the program due to busy work or personal schedules. 

After the submission deadline, the current group of mentors then reviews the list and accepts a limited number of mentees into the program.  Applications are now closed. Thank you to all who applied – we will be notifying applicants of their status soon.

I’ve been selected, now what?

Once a candidate is notified that she has been accepted into the program, her assigned mentor reaches out to her to begin the dialog. Initial discussions often focus on work environment, current projects, and the mentee’s goals. Of course, all of these interactions are completely confidential.

Because mentors and mentees are often located across different time zones and have demanding work schedules, some or most of the mentee discussions occur via email. While telephone discussions are preferable, it’s not always possible to have live conversations. However, each mentor/mentee situation is different, and the two individuals determine the best way to communicate.

During discussions, whether via email or telephone, the conversation focuses on helping the mentee achieve the pre-defined goals. For example, a mentee may wish to learn a new Citrix technology and become certified. As such, the discussion may focus on how to effectively set up a lab environment or tools that may advance learning. 

Mentee Guiliana Crespo leading a Lunch Table Tech Chat at Citrix Synergy 2018

Mentoring Benefits

The mentees are not the only ones that benefit from the WIT mentorship program. Mentors report that the energy from the mentees inspires them as well. Current mentor Cathy Leik commented, “I joined the WIT mentorship program hoping to share my experience in a way that would help other women achieve their goals.  Recalling where I started reminds me how fortunate I’ve been to have this great career!” And mentor Sarah Vogt stated, “Being invited to take part in the WIT program as a mentor is both an honor and challenge in that we’re always in a place of learning.”

Because women comprise such a small percentage of IT professionals, it can be a lonely world for women. The mentors and mentees form friendships that typically last beyond the program time. “This is amazing, to network with women in the industry,” says 2018 mentee Sherry Gaskin.

2018 mentee AJ Naciri adds, “It was a truly wonderful experience. Although my mentor was out of the country, she still made the time and met me at Synergy. It was a wonderful experience and a valuable knowledge and expertise transfer of information. My mentor was positive and supportive and asked all the questions that were needed to be an effective mentor. She gained personal respect and admiration from both myself and the other women that she was mentoring. Overall excellent program and so glad to be a part of this.”

2017-18 Mentees were invited to sit with the CTPs during one of the Synergy 2018 keynotes.

WIT Program Wrap-Up

The discussions and telephone conversations continue for about six months, and then the annual mentoring program wraps up in May of each year to coincide with Synergy. Whenever possible, the mentors and mentees meet at Synergy. Esther Barthel was delighted to meet her 2016-17 mentee for the first time at Synergy in Orlando last year, and even more of our mentees were able to make it to Synergy in Anaheim this year.

The mentees are then asked about next steps. In the case of Rene Reighard, my 2016-17 mentee, she volunteered to become a CUGC WIT mentor for the 2017-18 program.  Rene Reighard stated, “I feel that mentoring can be infectious.”

Mentorship is a magnificent way to welcome more women into the CUGC community. When the 2018-19 WIT program submissions open in a few days, I hope even more CUGC women will consider applying for mentorship!

CUGC WIT Class of 2017-18 meetup at the CUGC@Synergy Pregame.

Jo Harder

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