Written by Ally Jabuka-Goodwin
The Structural Engineering Engagement and Equity (SE3) Committee held its second “speed mentoring” event on Thursday, April 5th, 2018 at ARUP’s office in San Francisco. The event began at 6 pm with a welcome address from Hayley Dickson and Theresa Curtis, the committee co-chairs, followed by each mentor introducing themselves, briefly describing their past experience and career trajectory.
The format of the event was the same as the previous event. The mentors were divided into pairs and met with groups of three to five mentees at a time for 12 minute discussions. At the end of each session, mentees rotated to the next pair of mentors. By then end of the event, all mentees had a chance to speak with all of the mentors. Mentees where provided with information packets beforehand and came prepared with thoughtful, important questions.
The event attracted a large group of mentees at various stages in their careers. Topics of conversation included work life balance, networking, public speaking, how to advance in your career and more. The mentors provided incredible insight into these topics.
A common theme of discussion was the importance of networking and some strategies for the younger engineers who may find it difficult. One mentee asked Eugene Tuan, president of Tuan and Robinson Structural Engineers, how he built a client base when starting his own business and what advice he had for someone who is introverted. Eugene explained that building relationships with new clients and networking in general is like making friends. The same skills you have developed to make friends throughout your lifetime are the skills you use to build business relationships. He encouraged the mentee to not see his introversion as a limit on his ability to be successful in business.
Kate Stillwell, founder and CEO of Jumpstart Insurance Solutions, also stressed the importance of networking in business. She spoke about working on her networking skills during her time in business school and suggested Toastmasters as a great alternative for young engineers looking to develop their interpersonal skills.
Another topic of conversation was how to be chosen to work on the interesting projects in your firm. David Ojala, a senior associate at Thornton Tomasetti, described how all engineers have to work on the standard, code-based projects. Those projects are necessary to keep all companies going. However, he suggested doing outside research on structural engineering topics of interest. This would put the engineer at an advantage when their company gets a unique project. He also suggested joining one of a few of the SEAONC committees, which provide opportunities to explore some of the more complex challenges in structural engineering.
The SE3 Committee is delighted by the results of this event. The committee is very grateful for the participation of an amazing group of mentors. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with our mentees. Thanks also to everyone who participated as a mentee and asked such thoughtful questions. SE3 looks forward to future mentorship events to continue to foster connections in the structural engineering community.
To learn about or help plan upcoming events, join us at our next meeting on May 8th at Thornton Tomasetti in San Francisco! We are always looking for new members and contributors.
For more information about the SE3 Committee visit SE3project.org. To learn more about the NCSEA SE3 Committee, visit ncsea.com/committees/SE3 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to take the newly released 2018 NCSEA SE3 Survey about engagement and equity in the structural engineering profession that can be found at ncesa.com/committees.se3.