Mentorship program launched for female engineering students at UNH

Program teams juniors and seniors with software, civil and electrical engineers

The University of New Hampshire’s Society of Women Engineers Student chapter recently launched a mentorship program that matches software, civil and electrical engineers with junior and senior female students at the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

The goal of the program is to provide career insight and preparation as well as build leadership skills for juniors and seniors who will in turn mentor freshmen and sophomores.

Organizers of the program turned to Candice Benson, CEO of Benson Consulting and chair of the NH Tech Alliance’s Tech Women|Tech Girls initiative, to help it find mentors. She said she received an overwhelming response after she reached out for volunteers. In fact, there’s now a waiting list of mentors who want to participate.

The pilot program is being supported by C3 Metrics, a Portsmouth-based cross-channel advertising measurement and accountability firm.

Jeff Greenfield, chief operating officer and co-founder of C3, said his firm is sponsoring the program to increase diversity at his firm.

“When you’re sitting around the table and everyone’s the same color and same gender, you’re more likely to come to the same answers to the problems you’re trying to solve. And the more different opinions you have, the closer you’ll get the correct answer the fastest. And that’s what we found in our business.”

A year ago, C3 Metrics made a concerted effort to diversify its workforce by evaluating job descriptions and finding organizations that opened pathways to more diverse candidates.

“We started to find organizations we could get behind and support, and then we were made aware of this mentorship program and this was right up our alley; it’s what we’re about,” said Greenfield, who is looking for software engineers to develop the code for the backend of their data analytics software as well as front-end developers who can focus on design and usability of the platform.

“I don’t know if anyone in the program will become employees or not, but it seems like the right thing to do to guide new, young professionals that are about to enter the workforce,” he said.

The program is meant to encourage diversity in the workplace, but it also serves to show female students the diversity they need in their own personal networks, which they can depend on well past the program and their education at UNH, said Benson.

“Mentoring is always a two-way street and normally anytime I’ve mentored anyone in their career, it impacted myself as well. I probably learned as much or more than they learned from me,” said Benson.

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