by Jo Harder, CTP, CUGC Women In Tech Founding Mentor
Hey Ladies … Does Your Career Need a Little Boost?
Enabling women, one at a time, to gain confidence and achieve goals is the focus of the CUGC Women In Technology mentoring program. The 2019-2020 program is getting ready to start, and let us tell you about the program and the commitment.
Back in the days when the Citrix Technology Program (CTP) added its first female CTPs, Theresa Miller, Esther Barthel, and Jo Harder explored ways that women could expand beyond a single-digit percentage. Those discussions led to the creation of the CUGC WIT Mentorship Program.
The CUGC WIT program is a no-cost career opportunity that opens up each September to CUGC members. Mentors and mentees regularly dialog, either via phone or email, to discuss career goals and workplace challenges, as well as ways to demonstrate assertiveness and business confidence.
While you may have seen the gray and pink Women In Technology shirts at Citrix Synergy, something was different this year. There were not only women wearing the shirts, but some men too. Men?!?
Yes, men! As much as we want women to succeed in technology, reaching out to men was recommended to us. One of our founding mentors, Esther Barthel, invited successful businesswoman and technologist Eva Helén to help us explore how women could be more successful, and Eva pointed out that we can only be half as successful if we exclude men. (Check out the CUGC webinar recording “Mind the Gap,” where Eva talks about this in more detail.) As such, we’ve sought out a few men that really “get it” and asked them to be part of the program.
So, we’ve decided that we’re trying something new this year. We’re going to have a non-woman, i.e., a man, be one of our mentors. In addition, two other men have offered to coach WIT mentees in specialty areas, like public speaking. Just like in life, the program needs to try new things in order to raise the bar of success.
The WIT mentoring program is now open for new submissions starting September 4, 2019. Candidates have the opportunity to express their interest in being mentored. As part of the submission, each 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 commitment carefully before applying because your time, as well as that of the mentor, is a precious commodity. As such, we ask that you not apply if you cannot make that time commitment.
After the submission deadline on October 4, the current group of mentors then reviews the list and accepts a limited number of mentees into the program.
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 or online video 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 become a more valued work team member. The mentor and mentee may focus discussions on certifications, documentation, and confidence-building tasks that can help the mentee improve in this area.
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. Whether it’s due to a new certification, promotion, or overcoming an obstacle, the mentors and mentees share the excitement of achieving an important milestone.
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.
Winding Down the Annual WIT Program
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, and oftentimes, this is the first time that they meet face to face. It’s a bittersweet time because it’s also the end of the annual program.
As the program winds down, mentees take stock of the advancements made during the mentorship program period. In some cases, it’s getting a new certification, asking for a raise or promotion, or having the confidence to take on a new project.
After the program period wraps up, the mentees are then asked about next steps. Several of the mentors become mentees for the next annual program.
Mentorship is a magnificent way to welcome more women into the CUGC community. When the 2019-20 WIT program submissions open shortly, please consider applying for WIT mentorship!