To explore the world of mentorship, we’ve been getting acquainted some of the dynamic mentor-protégée teams who are a part of the Engineering Professional Success Pilot Mentorship Program. Today, we turn the spotlight onto another mentoring superhero, Sharon McGuire.
“I always remind my mentees to seize any opportunity to gain more experience,” said McGuire. “You have to put yourself out there and be an ‘eager beaver’ so to speak.”
And she certainly speaks from experience. Recruited to the mentorship program largely because of her varied background at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), McGuire’s colleagues knew she could bring a diversity of technical skills to the table. Beginning her career journey at OPG as an engineering/applied science trainee, McGuire did a number of rotations until she discovered her passion as an environmental advisor. Conducting air emissions modelling and providing technical advice across the organization, she continues to build her build her own unique success at OPG as she works towards becoming an air specialist.
Sealing her fate as one of the program’s vital team players, McGuire also has the heart of a mentor.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping peers solve problems to reach their fullest potential. I’ve taken on many unofficial mentorship roles and I’m fortunate to have had a number of unofficial mentors to guide me over the years. The program was the perfect fit,” said McGuire.
McGuire works with two mentees with whom she meets monthly to develop personalized plans of action. Proving you don’t need superpowers to make a big difference during one-hour sessions, McGuire has helped her protégées navigate aspects of the licensure process by providing advice on registration as an Engineer in Training (EIT) and sharing personal preparation pointers for the Professional Practice Exam (PPE). During their one-on-one sessions, McGuire works with her protégées to develop strategies for reaching their career goals, including cover letter and resume work as well as fine-tuning personalized job search plans.
“A lot of it comes down to evaluating your transferrable skills and narrowing down whether you’re striving for a management or a technical role,” said McGuire.
“My best advice to those just starting out in the profession is to find stepping stone jobs that will provide you with the experience you need to get where you want to go. Sometimes it takes a sales-oriented position, for example, to really become familiar with a business and its technical background.”
McGuire believes mentors can provide important industry perspective. They’ve been through similar experiences, can answer questions specific to your field of interest and can share contacts to expand your network.
“Sometimes just knowing that someone believes in you can be a huge weight off your shoulders. Many professionals often feel that they don’t have all the answers, so they think mentoring may not be the right fit for them, but you don’t have to know everything to be of great help to someone unfamiliar with the field. A lot of times the resources and experiences that you have at your fingertips are more than enough to boost someone’s confidence.”
Later in the month we’ll be checking in with McGuire’s mentees, so stay tuned for a look at the mentorship experience from the perspective of the protégée.
In the meantime, if the Pilot Mentorship Program appeals to you as either a mentor or a protégée, click here to find out how you can get involved.
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Thank you Sharon for carving out the time to do this and also to the others who are giving of their time to mentor. I am also participating as a mentor in this program – minimal time but very rewarding so far! Aarthi, the program coordinator, is also super helpful!
Have you heard of the “leaking pipe syndrome”? It is an analogy used to illustrate retention of women in engineering – that is, understanding the numbers of women who begin in engineering and stay in engineering throughout their careers. While the pipe is full in the beginning, ( all women who graduate from engineering programs ) many leak out or leave the engineering field along the way until there is just a trickle at the end of the pipe. Some of the leaking is attributed to the inability to secure a job in their field after graduation, some move by choice or need into law, business or education or those with young families leave to find better work/life balance. It is programs like the OSPE Pilot Mentorship where connections are made between experienced female & male engineers with female engineering grads which will help plug a few of those holes in this leaky pipe!
Did you know EIT is short for Engineering Intern? In Ontario, the title ‘Engineer” is protected under the Engineers Act and only those that hold a license with Professional Engineers Ontario have the right to call themselves an “Engineer”. EIT’s are not yet licensed and therefore are referred to as Engineering Interns. If we as engineers do not respect the title, how can we expect others too?