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Preparing the IET’s next generation of volunteers

27 May 2014
By Keri Allan
IET Victoria Local Network YPS leadership programme

Participants in the IET Victoria Local Network's YPS leadership programme.

A young professionals’ leadership programme has been launched in Australia by the IET Victoria Local Network.

The Young Professionals Section (YPS) leadership programme was launched last year at the State Library in Melbourne, Australia. Running between six to eight months, participants are paired with a mentor from the YPS committee. They then work to develop their soft skills while helping to organise and run events for the YPS of IET Victoria.

The aim is to help the students learn the skills necessary to successfully manage projects and then apply them to their studies, and also to hopefully bring fresh blood into the committee.

“From the committee's perspective, an important focus of the programme is about succession planning, by immersing the students in an IET volunteering situation and hopefully retaining some of them as permanent committee members,” says Rowan Pattieson, YPS Chairperson.

IET Victoria committee member Denise Lam had identified the issue of succession planning and, having run a successful mentoring program for IET Victoria many years ago, developed the scheme.

“The programme came about from the need to recruit more volunteers to the YPS committee, particularly current university students,” she explains.

Interest in the programme has been impressive. The committee received 53 applications and the top 16 applicants were chosen for its inaugural year.

“Applicants were asked questions about why they wanted to participate in the programme and what would make a good committee member. Successful applicants were selected based on the amount of thought that went into their answers, as well as their written communication skills,” Lam notes.

Now well underway, Lam highlights what the programme entails: “The students attend several formal meetings throughout the programme. At these meetings, a presentation is delivered by a committee member about either the IET and its activities, or guidance on organising events and activities, such as task management, scheduling, and budgeting.

“The programme participants are also expected to contribute to the IET by helping to organise the Present around the World (PATW) competitions, first for the Victoria LN, and then for Australia as a whole.

“The participants are divided into groups and each group is assigned a mentor from the committee. The mentor's role is to guide the participants through their tasks for the PATW finals, as well as to act as a general mentor by sharing advice on their career experiences,” she continues.

“Finally the students will also be required to come up with their own idea for an IET event or activity and to flesh that idea into a proposal document. These will be assessed at the end of the programme, and the authors of the winning proposal will be awarded a cash prize of $500.”

The lucky students like mentee Ariba Siddiqi feel honoured to have been chosen and, as she highlights, believe taking part will greatly help their career prospects.

“The programme enables young professionals like us to gain and improve our soft skills that may not have been taught during the studies. Moreover, the programme gets you in touch with existing engineers who can advise young engineers on their careers,” she notes.

You can find out more about the IET Victoria YPS on Facebook.

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