Re: the old fellowship program, was Wow, we're famous

Marc Petit-Huguenin <> Fri, 16 April 2021 13:02 UTC

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To: Warren Kumari <>, "Salz, Rich" <>
Cc: John Levine <>, "" <>
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From: Marc Petit-Huguenin <>
Subject: Re: the old fellowship program, was Wow, we're famous
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Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2021 06:02:24 -0700
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On 4/15/21 3:53 PM, Warren Kumari wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 10:06 AM Salz, Rich <rsalz=
>> wrote:
>>>     I am more and more convinced that, instead on counting on some
>> centralized way to attract new people and then get complaints when they do
>> not stay, maybe there is a better way would permit to achieve our goal in a
>> more distributed way.  I do not think that group mentorship for the IETF is
>> working -- I tried at a previous company, and none of the mentorees are
>> still participating, so that's not the way.
>> One idea I had, which I mentioned to Lars when we chatted after the Nomcom
>> selections, was an "invite a friend" program. If you come to the IETF, and
>> you "sponsor" a colleague, then they get reduced/free admission. Of course,
>> all sorts of details to be worked out there.  But I hoped it could
>> encourage distributed diversity. Especially for junior engineers, you can
>> keep travel and lodging costs low :)
> Wow, I really like that idea. I've fairly much always worn one of the
> "smiley face" stickers, and always try introduce myself to people wearing
> the newcomers ribbon - I've struck up some good conversations, but I'm not
> sure that they've "stuck".
> I've also signed up to be a mentor a few times, but in most of the cases I
> only briefly met my mentee, and in at least two of the cases I wasn't able
> to find them at all (even after 5 or 6 mails).
> I like the reduced charge for first time colleague idea - I've "mentored" a
> few people from my company, and that's gone much, much better. I suspect
> that a fair bit of this is simply that there is a different dynamic between
> people in the same company...
> However, as much as I like this idea, it also has some really bad downsides
> -- it implicitly advantages those from larger companies. If someone is the
> only attendee from a smaller company, they don't have anyone to mentor them.
> If we do do something along these lines, I think that we also need to focus
> on the mentoring program... actually, strike that - *whatever* we do we
> should focus more on the mentoring program...

I also like that idea of "invite a friend", but IMO one of the conditions should be that the friend should be from a different company.  I agree that it is more difficult to mentor someone from a different company, but that should be the goal.  RFCs should not have authors all from the same company, for obvious reasons, so mentorship should not either.

As I said elsewhere, I do not think that attending an IETF meeting should be the very first item on the list of things to do in such mentorship.  So one cannot use IETF meetings to select a mentoree.  But maybe we could use other venues for that:  Local meet-ups, ISOC chapter meetings, ACM chapter meetings maybe good places to network with the intent of finding a mentoree.  Ask the organizer to ive you a coupel minutes to present the idea.  Have a couple lunches (or video calls until we are back to normal) to discuss the respective goals of mentor/future mentoree and see if there is enough affinity.  Choose one and proceed from there.

Again, most of the messages I read in these threads are about asking the IETF or ISOC to do something about it.  I think that's just procrastination.  My point is that we can make an impact without any sort of formal group telling us what to do.  Just do it, report your experience and do better with the next mentoree.

Marc Petit-Huguenin