The Young Professionals track for the IEEE Region 10 Conference, TENCON 2015 started with the session on “Rejuvenating Young Professionals” by Mr. Ranjit R. Nair, IEEE Region 10 Young Professionals Coordinator. During his session, Ranjit emphasized the benefits of being a Young Professional in IEEE and how IEEE can be beneficial to them. He cited examples of various young professionals across the globe who have been active IEEE members and benefited very much by contributing to technology and society. Special mention was given to members in academia and how to leverage the benefits from IEEE. There was also a discussion about the need for a Young Professionals Affinity group in each section and how a local affinity group can provide benefit to members.
The Next session was a talk by Dr.S.N.Singh on the topic “Opportunities for Academics in Industry”. With his vast industry experience and then being an academic serving at various institutes, elaborated on the needs of engineers from each area and how Industry Academia linkage can promote research. He cited examples on how we can promote the linkage between academics and industry. During his talk, he elaborated the need for academics to raise up to the current industry standard so as to take part in projects from industry. There was good interaction during the Q&A session on various challenges faced by academics to involve Industry and possible ways to resolve these.
This was followed by a Discussion on “How Academics can leverage benefits of IEEE”. There was a fruitful discussion between the speakers and the delegates. IEEE 2017 President, Ms.Karen Bartleson was also present and contributed significantly to the discussions. Some of the major discussion points and suggestions raised are described in the next paragraph.
Dr.S. N. Singh suggested promoting Young Professionals and spreading more awareness to local sections especially with those who do not have an Affinity Group. Young Professionals awareness has to be made as a main track in the conferences. Mr. MGPL Narayana, R10 Vice Chair, stressed on the need for career opportunities and mentioned about the India strategic initiative programs. Jithin Krishnan, EMBS Young Professional volunteer, suggested having tool based training programs. Karen Bartleson, IEEE President Elect 2016 pointed out that even though technology changes every couple of years, the institutional curriculum changes only once in seven or eight years, she emphasized the need to have a dynamic structure so that the course curriculum come at par with changing technologies. Anil Kumar C. V., PhD resource scholar suggested that increasing the number of free downloads of IEEE papers help students (especially graduate students) in their research work. This will help reduce the economic constraints faced by the members from developing nations.
Mr.Ajin Baby, Chair, IEEE Kerala Young Professionals AG, pointed out that Government and Universities have to be convinced to promote entrepreneurship. Programs like GDP boot and employment opportunities can be conducted to promote this. The units should provide a sandbox environment for interested students to try out entrepreneurship so that they can pursue the same. Ms. Preethy V. Warrier, Secretary WIE Kerala Section, shared her industrial experience, being a Young Professional and also suggested a method to promote women in the field of engineering. Identifying the reasons that are pulling back young girls from entering the world of technology after their graduation, finding out solutions and implementing them will provide more opportunities to them. Dr. Paul Chen, Chair of IEEE Macau Section expressed willingness to start a Young Professionals Affinity group after hearing about the benefits.
The discussion led to opening the doors of opportunities for members as well as other students and professionals. The session came to a close with a group photograph of the attendees and speakers. The event was realized with support from Region 10 and MGA Young Professionals Committee.
Article contributed by Ranjit Nair, IEEE Region 10 Young Professionals Coordinator
Networking is one of the most powerful and useful acts an individual can undertake to advance their career. Your network can help you build visibility, connect you with influencers, and create new opportunities. However, as professionals who work in technology development and management we often overlook the importance of this attribute. Given that I was born in the 1980’s, I can clearly remember the widespread usage of the internet and some of the basic social functionality that emerged. In the last 5 to 10 years we have been swamped with online portals that offer alternatives to face to face networking such as Linkedin. In today’s article I will dissect networking and why I believe the face to face approach is still the key to success, provide you with six points of advice to hit the ground running and a few useful online sources.
Be strategic about your networking (Image courtesy: http://spotcard.co/)
Networking in simple terms is an information exchange between you and another individual with a focus of establishing relationships with people who can help you achieve a particular goal; including advancing your career.
A networking contact could result in one of the following:
Intimate information on the latest in your field of interest (IEEE technical society is a good example) or information about an organization’s plan to expand operations or release a new product.
Job search advice specific to your field of interest (where the jobs are typically listed).
Tips on your job hunting tools (resume, cover letter and /or design portfolio).
Names of people to contact about possible employment or information.
Follow-up interview and a possible job offer
Who is in my network?
Developing your network is easy because you know more people than you think you know, and if you don’t then you really should get out there and start meeting people. Networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.
Your family, friends, room mates, partners, university academics and staff, alumni, past and present co-workers, neighbours, club and organization and association members, people at the gym, people at the local cafe and neighbourhood store, and people in your sports club.
These people are all part of your current network, professional and personal. Keep an on-going list of the names and contact information of the people in your network. Ask your contacts to introduce you to their contacts and keep expanding your list. Opportunities to network with people arise at any time and any place. Never underestimate an opportunity to make a connection.
Who is in your network? “Start a conversation and see where it leads you to” says Dr. Eddie Custovic
Online vs Offline?
There are a number of social networking sites where you can make great professional contacts, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also use discussion groups such as blogs, newsgroups, and chat rooms to network online. IEEE Collabratec is a fantastic integrated online community where technology professionals can network, collaborate, and create – all in one central hub. This will help you discover the hot issues in your field of interest, post questions, and find out about specific job openings that are not otherwise posted to the general public.
“The digital arena has shown much promise in terms of networking. It is convenient, universally accessible and very quick. The 21st century human is impatient and demands results at the snap of a finger. While online networking is a big part of relationship-building nowadays, it is only one part of relationship/partnership building. Face-to-face interaction still offers a host of real, unique advantages – which you should not brush aside easily. Trust, transparency and momentum behind strong business relationships emerge as a result of sharing a physical presence. Online interaction of whatever format it may be can’t provide this. It can’t simulate the reassuring grip of a confident handshake, or the positive energy of experiences, values, and interests shared face to face. These things can only unfold by interacting in person. Because of that exclusive context, live networking can be a valuable opportunity to help keep you ahead of the game.”
The power of personally connecting and human interaction accelerates relationship building. In 10 minutes I can know more about someone, or they about me, in person than in several months online. However, you must also keep in mind that online and offline complement each other. If I meet you online and strike up an online relationship that has value and interest to me, then taking it offline is going to enhance and progress that relationship. If we meet in person, then staying connected online is going to enhance and progress our relationship until we meet in person again.
Online / Offline networking? Or something in between? (Image courtesy: http://www.wall321.com/)
Another thing worth noting is that the new generation of young professionals has become heavily online dependent and often lack a strong face to face networking approach. It is easy to sit behind the computer and type questions but one must have the confidence to do the same in real life. By ensuring you have the face to face element covered also means that you are one step ahead of the pack!
Get out there, start a conversation and make it happen!
If you haven’t been out and about enough, make some goals this year to reconnect in person in your community, business world or hobbies. Go where you already have commonality and know people. It’s much easier and faster to get connected, get personal and make some new friends, connections and you just might get that job, interview, or new customer. Once you feel comfortable with your ability to strike up a conversation then you may want to consider meetup.com as a way of growing your network.
Want to learn how to network? The IEEE Young Professionals can help.
Here are some strategic tips on how leverage networking to maximise outcomes:
Be strategic about your networking – Strategic networking is more than just socializing and swapping business cards, it is about developing relationships to support your career aspirations. It takes focus and intention to build such a network, but it’s invaluable for your professional development. Identify who you know and who you need to know to help you reach your career goal and build a power network to support your advancement.
The power of diversity – Move out of your comfort zone and identify people who can help your career, not just those people you like and the people who can immediately be of benefit.
Be proactive – Networking is not something that we do and then sit on the shelf. It must be done proactively. Ask yourself this “If you were to lose your job tomorrow are you confident that your current network would be able to help you bounce back and start lining up interviews for new roles?” If the answer is no then It will most likely take you much longer to find a new position. And how can you get information about a hiring manager or new boss if you don’t have a network of people to provide that information? As fantastic as some of job sites are, remember that you are not the only one online looking at job adverts. A majority of jobs don’t make it to the websites and are filled through a powerful network.
Follow up– Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honour that and your referrals will grow. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer online sites such as LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.
Volunteer in organizations – A great way to increase your visibility and give back to groups that have helped you. This is one of the first tips that I give to my students and it is often right in front of you.
Be interested, stay focused – The best way to network is to show interest in what others have to say. People will be more likely to trust you because they’ll know it’s not all about you. In this process you will also uncover new information that can lead to favourable outcomes. You don’t know what you don’t know. So what’s the best way to learn more? Step away from your desk and do something, see something, read something or listen to something/someone that has nothing to do with your work. Do something that has nothing to do with what you know.
You network will quickly become a web of intertwined relationships that can be a very powerful tool in advancing your career. In conclusion, don’t underestimate what networking can do for you. Your network is your net worth.
Some useful networking tools for your career:
assessment.com/ – An online career assessment that identifies how one best fits in the workplace
efactor.com/ – An online community and virtual marketplace designed for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs.
September witnessed a celebration of women in engineering and technology from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The largest IEEE WIE summit was hosted from 11-12 September, 2015 for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region with 200 delegates, 40 speakers, 18 partners and 4 sub-tracks at Hotel Green Park, Chennai, India. IEEE Young Professionals partnered with the summit in hosting the Early Career track.
The summit attendees
With the theme – “Beyond Yourself – Leveraging your strengths and Breaking barriers”, the summit aimed to build a strong network for its attendees and give them actionable data and points of contact as a leg-up in their careers. The mission of this summit was to bring together individuals from different backgrounds of engineering, empower and inspire them into leadership and entrepreneurship. With diversity as a key for both attendees and speakers – the congregation consisted of delegates from Japan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, USA, Sri Lanka and speakers from industries that included Defense, Automotive, Technology, Consulting, Media & Arts, Not-Profit, and many others.
The program was divided into four sub tracks – Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Inspiration (sponsored by IEEE Young Professionals) and Empowerment (sponsored by CISCO, India) with four sessions in each track and a one hour career-planning workshop on the second day of Leadership track. The summit focused on various aspects of a professional career and also included inspiring talks from individuals from non engineering backgrounds.
Delegates in deep discussion
The first day set the pace for the remainder of the event with multiple networking and learning opportunities. Kumud Srinivasan, President, Intel India opened the conference with a keynote on pushing boundaries, women in leadership and discussed opportunities for diverse influence. The panel discussion by IEEE WIE leaders (three IEEE Global WIE Chairs – past and current) on how WIE Affinity Groups are playing a key role in transforming the role of women as change makers was well received by the audience. Malvika Iyer shared her candid story on how she continued to do what she loved in spite of impairment – PhD in Disability – Inclusion and becoming a Global Changemaker. Her quote – “Disability is in the mind of the observer, not the observed” left the audience awe-struck and received a standing ovation.
Teach for India, showcased leadership in the classroom, with TFI students sharing their stories. Archana Ramachandran, Chennai City Director TFI presented the leadership lessons that fellows learnt from the low-income schools and students.
The technology panel discussed a range of disruptive technologies with larger insights from CISCO. Lavanya Gopalakrishnan, Director CISCO caught the attention of senior delegates in the room while sharing – “Five things I wish I knew early in my career”.
The viral hashtag #ilooklikeanengineer was discussed by Kamolika Peres, Vice President, Ericsson India on how it is important to break the stereotypes about women in technology. For MBA career enthusiasts, the fireside chat with Vibha Kagzi (CEO, ReachIvy & Harvard Business School Alumna) provided useful insights to the top ten frequently asked questions on how and why MBA matters while transitioning from Engineering into Management.
For the early careers/young delegates, talks by Leena Bansal (Globe Trotter who solo travelled 32 countries), Esther Ling (IEEE Larry K Wilson Award recipient) and Ekta Grover (Bloom Reach) stood as great inspiration to be creative and think outside of the box.
Esther Ling at the Inspiration track sponsored by IEEE Young Professionals
The summit ended with a keynote from Lakshmi Pratury on stories around leaders from different cultures and backgrounds – a 12 year old who battled her life with a deadly illness to an entrepreneur from a rural background, who revolutionized women’s hygiene by creating a 1INR sanitary napkin and about young women entrepreneurs and leaders who leverage technology to make this world a better place. The organizing committee was recognized at the closing ceremony along with the support volunteers.
Committee Leads with IEEE Leaders and SICCI President – Mr. Jawahar
Article Contributed by – Preeti Kovvali (Program Curator & Partnerships Chair, 2015 IEEE WIE Leadership Summit). Preeti works at Tech Mahindra as a Service Delivery Leader handling database operations for a major healthcare client. She played a key role to design and curate the program for the IEEE WIE Leadership Summit. She also serves the 2015 Committee Member, Global Strategy Adhoc Committee & Liaison of the IEEE Young Professionals for IEEE WIE.
Article Edited by Dr. Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief, IMPACT by IEEE Young Professionals