On March 5, IT professionals from organizations across Stanford and Year Up interns gathered to kick-off a new mentoring program, marking the first partnership between two IDEAL IT programs: Stanford Women in Technology (WIT) and the Stanford Year Up Internship Program.
The Stanford WIT/Year Up Mentoring Program is comprised of 16 Year Up interns (mentees) and 16 WIT community members (mentors) from teams across the university, SLAC, and the hospitals. These individuals, along with the interns’ supervisors, attended the kickoff meeting.
Tedd Fernandez, external relations coordinator for Year Up, provided introductory remarks alongside Jon Russell, senior director in University IT (UIT) and Stanford Year Up program lead. Tedd encouraged mentors to, “Become the mentor you always wished you had. Take this opportunity and become a champion for someone else.”
How it all started
WIT’s mission involves a service and outreach component, where members can volunteer as mentors and role models to young women (and men). The goal is to expose the next generation to careers in technology and demonstrate that it is a field where men AND women alike can succeed. The commitment to investing in young people is an integral part of closing the gender gap in technology over the long term.
With this charge in mind, the Stanford WIT Service and Outreach committee, led by co-chairs Judy Zhang and Ping Wei, set out to create a program that would make such volunteer opportunities accessible for WIT community members. That’s when they had the idea to provide mentoring for the Year Up interns at Stanford.
Year Up works with motivated young adults from underprivileged and economically disadvantaged communities to provide technology skills training and internships. For Year Up interns, one of the key factors for success in the business world is having productive relationships with mentors. After graduating from the internship program, Year Up interns may continue to work for Stanford depending on the availability of open positions.
The WIT/Year Up Mentoring Program is a win-win because it helps both Stanford WIT and the Year Up Internship Program realize their individual goals while creating a lasting impact for all.
After a fun icebreaker about dream mentors, Dani Aivazian, senior organizational effectiveness specialist in the office of the CIO, and IDEAL IT program lead, kicked things off by highlighting key foundational elements of the Stanford IDEAL IT Program. She also shared a few of the benefits for both mentors and mentees, which include network expansion, communication, and leadership opportunities.
Brittany Cripe, organizational effectiveness specialist in the office of the CIO, and WIT program lead, provided an overview of expectations and resources for all program participants. Among the outlined expectations, meeting at least once a month over the next five months before the program wraps up in July is key to the success of the mentor/mentee relationship. Also, the primary components of building and maintaining a successful business relationship are respect, responsiveness, and accountability.
Mentors and mentees then spent time getting to meet and connect with one another. The goals were that they would walk away from the meeting knowing their mentor or mentee, with a plan for when they would meet next.
The success of this pilot program may have a meaningful impact on IDEAL IT and the IT Community that extends beyond this initiative. The growth and expansion of the program between WIT and Year Up may open the doors for other cross-collaborations among other IDEAL IT programs.