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ECE department launches virtual alumni mentorship program
November 19, 2020-- In an effort to keep students and alumni engaged and connected to campus resources during months of remote school and work, the Jacobs School’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department’s Alumni Advisory Board launched an ECE Alumni Mentorship Program (AMP) in October.
The six month program pairs a current ECE student with an alumnus who shares similar interests, not just in terms of academics and research, but broader hobbies or personal interests as well. In addition to two recommended mentor-mentee meetings a month, the whole group of participants meets for one or two additional group activities each month, including social events and discussion or guest speaker sessions.
Participation has been sky-high.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response,” said Stefanie Battaglia, the program director. “We went into this thinking if we could get 50 students and 50 mentors that would be great. And out of the gates we’ve doubled that.”
117 students and 98 alumni are participating in this inaugural session of the program.
Hamna Khan, an electrical engineering alumna who now works for Northrop Grumman developing solar array hardware for space vehicles, is president of the ECE Alumni Advisory Board. She said the idea for this mentorship program started last spring, when students, faculty, staff and alumni suddenly found themselves dealing with remote learning and work requirements.
“We knew the pandemic wasn’t going to end right away,” said Khan. “We had a feeling we had to figure out what it is we can do while we’re at home. We started talking to students, we talked to faculty, and we came up with this idea of why don’t we try this mentorship program? We’re helping students who feel even more lost and confused, and connecting with alumni who are eager to help.”
Khan spent days reading through every single participant’s answers to a long list of questions designed to ensure the mentors and mentees have enough interests in common to have meaningful conversations—from technical interests to hobbies, larger topics they care about such as climate change, social justice, intellectual property, or space for example, to areas where the students felt they needed help and areas the alumni felt they could offer advice.
The theme for fall quarter’s meetings is preparing for job interviews—how to polish LinkedIn profiles, resumes, conducting mock interviews and helping students develop the confidence to apply for roles they’re interested in.
Themes for winter and spring quarter will depend on feedback from alumni and students, but will include advice on being successful in the classroom, joining student organizations and getting involved in research opportunities on campus.
Given the levels of participation for this first cohort of AMP, Khan said she anticipates this will be an ongoing annual program, starting each fall and running through spring quarter. Return mentors and mentees are welcome to reapply each year, and will be matched with a new partner. And new participants are always welcome.
“It’s been great to see how many alumni are participating in this that have never gotten involved before—so many new faces,” said Khan. “A couple were also interested in the Alumni Advisory Board and I love that we’re getting more people to understand that we’re here to help everyone and build a stronger ECE community.”
Learn more about ECE AMP and get involved: https://sites.google.com/view/ece-amp
Jacobs School of Engineering