Women in Tech: Mentoring at Velocity
January 28, 2016
Mentoring plays a crucial part in everyone’s personal and professional life. Men and women professionals alike can benefit from having someone to look up to, who will advise them and share their own experiences.
The Women In Technology (WIT) Empower committee hosts regular workshops and speaker series to provide attendees with insights and actionable takeaways that can directly make an impact on their lives. In November 2015, the committee planned a speed mentoring event, the first of its kind at LinkedIn.
Just like speed dating, we set up more experienced LinkedIn employees at their own tables and had younger female employees rotate around the room in short intervals to help them find a match made in mentor-mentee heaven.
The event started with the head of WIT Empower, Kamini Dandapani, who explained briefly the event and how it would work. We then had the mentees divided into two sessions. Twenty-three mentees had five minutes to talk with each of the 12 mentors before moving on to the next one. The mentees came prepared with a set of questions prior to the event. The event ended with a short speech from Bruno Connelly, VP of Engineering, about the event and the cause.
It was great to see strong connections being made in such a short amount of time. Since the mentors had different backgrounds and positions from the mentees, the mentees were able to get some valuable insights from the mentors. Their paths would not have crossed if not for this event.
“It is amazing how much you can learn and connect in five dedicated minutes where both parties are fully focused,” said one of the mentees in an anonymous survey following the
Another mentee, Jo Chou, shared an anecdote that one of the mentors gave her. "You have a bag of keys. If the door doesn't open, don't keep trying to turn the same key. Try a different key."
“Very inspiring. I learned a lot and got to meet with people I normally would not be able to meet. I really like how it turned out.”
By interacting with multiple mentors, the mentees had the opportunity to find a mentor that best suited their needs. The mentees asked questions about how to attain a better work-life balance, or how to progress in their respective fields.
One mentee quoted, “I learned very important things on how to keep work life balance! It was amazing how the leaders are able to manage that. Learning directly from them was amazing and helped me in my professional and personal life.”
By asking the same question to multiple mentors, the mentees were able to get different perspectives on the same subject, which a mentee said was very valuable and helped her choose a mentor that best aligned with her interests. “The ability to speak with multiple mentors and get different perspectives in a given hour was a very rewarding experience and helped me choose my mentor.“
The mentors are passionate about guiding young female professionals and informing their careers, which is why they volunteered their time for this event. The turnout was very diverse too, with a healthy mix of men and women mentors. The mentors were impressed with the clarity and depth of the questions they were asked. “The mentees were engaged and largely clear in their goals,” said one of the mentors in the survey.
The event turned out to be a great success. The mentees gained some knowledge and the mentors got a chance to share their experiences and words of wisdom. Most of the mentees said that they will be following up with their mentors beyond the event. We, as part of the WIT Empower committee, plan to host more events like this one throughout 2016.