If I were to characterize 2019, I would say that it was a year of mentoring. I interacted with some great mentees and was fortunate to play a small part in their aspiring lives. In the process, I gained a lot.
My work as Executive in Residence at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Integrated Innovation Institute had me mentoring the masters’ students in their class projects during the spring and fall semesters, and the summer practicum students. Besides successful completion by the students, these projects keep me current in data science, analytics, and application of machine learning. I look forward to the new set of students in the Spring 2020 semester.
My membership in the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association got me involved in the Barbara Smith Mentoring Program. Here I could take part in the staff-to-staff mentoring program. The remote mentoring sessions conducted over Zoom were highly satisfying and I hope to continue in 2020.
I mentor new members in my Early Risers Toastmasters Club from time to time. It is usually a low key effort. However, this year I started mentoring a brand-new Toastmasters club at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The members of this club are creative, fun, and enthusiastic. Some heart-felt, most-inspiring speeches I heard this year were at this club, from very young speakers. This mentoring engagement taught me to be more open to possibilities in conducting the Toastmaster club business.
This year saw the start of two mentoring programs by the alumni association of my undergraduate alma mater, College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), Chennai. One of them is for mentoring the current students in Chennai. I mentor several students, and we have remote chats and calls on WhatsApp, and it works pretty well. I wish I was there in person to do this, but technology is wonderful when it works. Some students do not have good voice conversations because of poor connections in their dorms, but we make it work with chats and email exchanges! And many of them are women!
Last but not least, I have had some successful mentoring relationships that started with former colleagues reaching out to me on LinkedIn. It is great to keep old connections alive!
Every time I have an exchange with a mentee, I feel exhilarated. Every time I start a mentoring relationship, I remind myself to listen and understand what the mentee wants from the relationship and to put my problem-solving engineering mind in check.
I thank all my mentees for a great year. You made it special. I look forward to another rewarding year of mentoring in 2020.