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The Take Two Approach

I was talking to a gentleman the other day who has a successful mentorship program in his line of business. I was amazed at the simplicity of his model. It started many years back when a few young fellows started coming to him with questions about what he does and how he does it. And simply by sharing the basics of his job, these men became more interested and started asking more and more questions. It finally dawned on this older gentleman that this seemed to be working out pretty well for equipping people to do the job at hand. So he developed a system of looking for people with promise and then taking two of them under his wing at one time, even if they did not overtly have the interest or background at the beginning of the relationship. But the real key was that he each pair that he was training and mentoring to make it their mission to do the same thing for two other people, thus exponentially growing the pool of applicants to work in the field.

So I got to thinking. What if the equity issues in computing were addressed in this way? People who feel passionate about the underrepresented populations could reach out and form a personal mentoring relationship with a couple of individuals, mentoring these people and supporting their explorations of computer science and then, in turn, those individuals could choose another two and so the process would be repeated over and over again? Sure, some of this happens unintentionally already. But what I am talking about here is a real focused effort- built on relationships, not internships.

I hope that maybe you will just give this suggestion a whirl. Find a couple students in your schools who you think might have potential and invite them to give computer science a try. Build a relationship with them so that they feel they can ask questions, even though they may not know anything about computer science. And let's just see where this puts us in 10 years.

Mindy Hart
CSTA Board of Directors

Comments

In the second para where you've talked about creating effective relationships over the usual internships is a thoughtful approach. Interestingly, an overall ecosystem where such mentored individuals would exist would turn out to be a wonderful knowledgeable world with team spirits in place.

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