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January 2021 (Volume 30, Number 1)
By Tawanda W. Johnson
The website for the APS IMPact Mentoring Program, the Society’s resource for connecting young physicists with industry mentors, has been relaunched with a new look and better tools. According to Dan Pisano, Director of Industrial Engagement at APS, the refreshed site “appears to be fostering some useful mentoring of students and early-career physicists with industry representatives.”
The goal of the IMPact Mentoring Program is to match students, post-docs, and early-career physicists with industry representatives to provide advice about careers in industry. The mentoring site started in 2015 and currently has generated about 300 active matches between mentors and mentees.
The upgraded site, which has been available for about two months, is now more user-friendly, featuring new graphics. Most importantly, the site’s matching algorithm has been adapted to accommodate international members who wish to be mentors or mentees.
“This platform recognizes that we’re all interconnected. We hope that students from all parts of the world will be able to connect with a mentor in any country in which they wish to work. Likewise, those mentors who may also be seeking to hire can tap into a global pool of young physics talent,” said Amy Flatten, APS Director of International Affairs, in a recent APS News article about the topic (see APS News, December 2020).
APS members who want to become mentors can sign on to the site and complete a brief profile to help ensure that mentees will be introduced to the most appropriate mentors. Similarly, APS members who want to be matched to a mentor can register and complete a brief profile indicating the area in which they wish to receive advice. The site’s matching algorithm then scans all available mentors and selects those who match the mentee’s area of interest. The list of potential matches is presented to the mentee who can then reach out to make contact with one of the mentors.
Mentees can seek advice on a variety of career topics, and there is no minimum or maximum length of time a mentee and a mentor can interact with one another.. The interaction is solely at the discretion of the two parties, but APS recommends four interactions over 90 days. At the conclusion of their interactions or at 90 days (whichever comes first) a questionnaire is sent out to gauge the degree of satisfaction. The survey results after 90 days show that 96% of mentors would “certainly” do this again, and 87% of mentees would “certainly” recommend the program to a peer.
The program is part of APS’s vision that “all graduating physicists consider APS their home professional society throughout their career,” according to Francis Slakey, APS Chief External Affairs Officer.
“We know that more than 70% of graduating physicists secure employment within the industrial sector, and one way that APS can help to prepare them for business careers is by partnering them with experts in industry,” said Pisano, adding that physics departments are often not in a position to focus on such skills due their primary emphasis on research.
To complement the goal of the IMPact program, Pisano has also teamed with Crystal Bailey, Head of Career Programs at APS, to develop a new webinar series highlighting key skills and knowledge young physicists need to succeed in industry.
“Industry employers already clearly value what physics graduates bring to their companies, but they have also pointed out that other key skills and knowledge could be stronger in new hires; this webinar series will help students build these skills,” said Bailey in a recent APS News article (APS News, October 2020).
Visit the APS IMPact website (impact.aps.org) to learn more about the mentoring program.
The author is Senior Press Secretary in the APS Office of External Affairs.
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine