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Speed dating the civil (eng) way

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Looking back over your career, have you ever thought “if only I’d known that at the time”? Or “if only I’d met so-and-so sooner”? Mentoring can help and it’s usually a subtle and long-term relationship, but Wits civil engineering students decided to hurry things up a bit.

The Wits Student Chapter of SAICE (South African Institution of Civil Engineering) organised an event where students could meet people in the industry. It ran like speed dating: the students got four minutes with each industry mentor before moving on to the next.

Chapter spokesperson Phiwe Linda Maseti says: “The students found it useful in getting personal questions answered and as a networking opportunity. Our mentors found it useful too as they also had the opportunity to network among themselves. Some students who were looking to get possible jobs out of it said they managed to land a meeting.

“We wanted a diverse group of mentors. They included lecturers from Wits, Master’s students and working professionals from companies like Aveng, Arup, Joburg Water, Genrec Engineering, Zitholele Consulting, Mott MacDonald and others. 

“Students were given a page of questions to help as a guideline which included questions like ‘What traits impress you the most in a working professional?’, ‘What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received?’, ‘Who has influenced you the most?’ and others.” (Perhaps they could include: the best piece of advice you never received…)

“But most of the students already knew what questions they wanted answers to and some would have a question once they had a chat with the mentor and knew their background.”

She concludes: “We received great feedback from the mentors and students, so I think it would be great if students in other fields also did something like this.”

Check out our Alumni Mentoring Platform for one way of sharing your hard-earned experience with the next generation.

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