Tufts Women in Computer Science (WiCS)has revived its mentorship program, which matches Tufts computer science alumni with current undergraduate students majoring in computer science.
Kaili Liang, co-president of Tufts WiCS, discussed the club's mission.
“We’re a club on campus meant to empower and support any female-identifying and nonbinary students that are interested in computer science. You don't necessarily have to be a computer science major,”Liang, a junior, said.“We do this through a series of different events.”
The WiCS mentorship program had been paused for the last few years, Luella Sugiman, co-coordinator of the WiCS mentorship program said. Before the program started, mentor relationships were mostly made through the Herd platform.
According to Liang, the Herd reached out to WiCS to transition its mentorship program to the larger network. However, after joining the Herd for a short period of time, WiCS decided to return to its previous mentorship program, which it is currently restarting.
“[We] decided that we liked the way we had done it previously better, because it was more intimate … we had more control over the matches, and we were able to help the different matches facilitate their meetings, which is not something that [the] Herd does,” Liang said. “We felt that ours was more personalized and specific to the people who decide to be a part of the program.”
Helen Li, co-president of WiCS, discussed the significance of mentorship for women and nonbinary people in STEM.
“We think that mentorship is really important because I think we used to have a lot of alumni who come back and want to help women or ... nonbinary people to get more experience in industry and [teach] them what it means to be interviewing and having internships,” Li, a junior, said. “I think what it really does is [it] fosters community that allows women to feel more included and feel less of an imposter syndrome, so that they could be able to do anything in the industry related to tech.”
Sugiman, a junior, explained that the organization connects people in the women's computer science community with experienced alumni who are either in school for master's degrees or working in the computer science field.
“We have basically three mentorship sessions that are the baseline for interactions between mentors and mentees,”Sugiman said. “We'll have one session a month, which the mentors and mentees will get emails about, and they would work out a time by themselves, and each of these sessions have a specific topic that the mentees and mentors will discuss.”
Sugimanadded that if mentors and mentees want to meet for more than three sessions, they are welcome to do so according to their own schedules.
Currently, WiCS is in the process of matching current undergraduate students with alumni in the computer science field.
Manpreet Kaur, co-coordinator of the mentorship program, explained the matching process.
According to Kaur, a sophomore, WiCS uses Google Forms to gauge alumni interest for mentoring. Then, WiCS reaches out to the Tufts student body, specifically students in computer science classes, to find interested mentees. Questions on the forms ask mentees and mentors about their interests, career goals and future plans.
Sugiman added that WiCS has received some emails from mentors about the anticipated revival of the mentorship program.
“We have had a few really nice emails from the mentors, telling us how great it is that we're starting this up because they feel like this connection between graduated alumni and passing experience and advice down to people who are just starting their CS career ... is a very important thing that they themselves want to uphold,”Sugiman said. “And by establishing this program, we're giving them a way to fulfill ... their ideals or values.”
Kaur added that the duration of the mentor-mentee relationship varies based on what each person is hoping to gain from the experience.
“Hopefully as the mentorship program keeps going ... more students can apply, or maybe there will be different matches,"Kaur said. "It really depends on ... who are the future mentorship coordinators, and also it depends on what the mentor and the mentee want from each other."
Kaur emphasized the importance of WiCS mentorship and the excitement that both mentees and mentors bring to the program.
“It's just really important that we're bringing back this mentorship program because it really gives a lot of students the opportunity to ... feel what CS can provide for them besides just taking classes, and especially when you come from no background of CS and just don't know where to start," Kaur said. "Our mentees are also very excited to get their matches, and everyone's really anticipating to start this program."