More and more Romanian companies are investing in mentoring programs for students and young employees aimed at supplementing practical skills and preparing them for their future careers.
A well-organized mentoring program brings many benefits to all parties involved:
- Speeds up the professional development process of juniors
- Contributes to increasing the quality of management in companies
- Facilitates open communication and feedback
- Has an impact in attracting talent
- Helps strengthen teams and create pleasant working environments for employees
- Represents a competitive advantage for the company
To highlight the benefits of a mentoring program, as seen by a student, we spoke with Naina, Software Engineer at Keysight Technologies Romania.
I know you started your career with an internship program at Keysight Technologies Romania. What exactly led you to follow such a program, and what were the selection criteria?
On the one hand, I was motivated by the faculty to follow an internship - after the 3rd year, the mandatory summer practice must be completed. On the other hand, it was something I also wanted to pursue to deepen the knowledge acquired in college and also to learn new things. I also knew about the long-term collaboration between Keysight Technologies and the Polytechnic University in Bucharest, and I was attracted by the fact that many of the employees are former graduates; I felt closer to this environment. Last but not least, the technologies they use are also the technologies that attracted me during college and the ones I want to learn more about: Docker / Kubernetes Deployments, Virtualization of Networking Concepts (NFVs), Traffic generation from Kernel and DPDK, VMware virtualization (ESXi, vCenter), OpenStack private cloud administration.
What did you gain from the internship, and how did it prepare you for your professional career?
First of all, there is quite a difference between the theory that is learned in school and how the information applies to real-life projects. Then, in addition to the technical information I acquired by actually working in the field, the internship also gave me confidence in myself. Although I think I still have a lot to learn, going through two internships at Keysight Technologies before being hired, I realize that I didn’t start from scratch. It also helped that I already knew my colleagues from the internship, so the transition was easier.
When did you start working with a mentor, and what was the first impact?
From day one. They helped me understand how to apply the concepts I learned in school and the principles of developing a project within a company versus a school project.
How do you think a mentor influences the professional path of a software engineer?
As a student, there are many things you may not even know you don’t know, and a mentor can guide you in one direction or another, depending on what you want to learn or where you want to go.
What should a software engineer do to maximize the relationship with a mentor? What should they do, and what shouldn’t they do?
As in any relationship, both parties should be actively involved. This means that you should not expect all information to come from the mentor; you too should ask questions or come up with new ideas. Also, self-study is important - at my first internship, I had a fairly long time to familiarize myself with the technologies before I actually started working on the assigned project. And in general, Keysight internships focus more on learning the theoretical part than on completing the practical part.
How do you choose a mentor? What advice would you give to engineers at the beginning of their journey?
In my case, I was assigned a mentor during the internship. An alternative would be to get involved in a community - for girls, in particular, there are communities that encourage and support choosing a career in STEM. Or you can simply write to the person who inspired you to become a programmer; you never know.