With Friends Like These . . .

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I’ll never forget my first day as a reporter for a chain of semiweekly newspapers. My new city editor held up a copy of the newspaper, pointed to the first few pages and said, “You need to fill these, twice a week.” That was the beginning and the end of my orientation program.

Luckily, a team of fellow reporters came to the rescue and showed me the ropes, explained the company’s editorial process and shed light on a few minor details, such as deadlines and where the bathroom was. Fortunately, many companies, especially large ones, are trying to curb this type of trial-by-fire onboarding in favor of formalized programs, particularly within IT departments.

Looking beyond a new hire’s first 90 days, these companies are setting up career development programs for IT pros that pick up where technical certifications leave off. Through mentoring programs for techies, IT departments address aspects such as business acumen, communication skills and corporate culture.

In this month’s Techniques feature, on page 34, we take a look at a few mentoring programs and explore how they benefit IT professionals.

Companies such as IBM have implemented some pretty cool mentoring tools, including webcasts, podcasts and even speed-dating-style mentoring sessions that have been adapted for business. (Anyone else imagining Milton from “Office Space” attending speed dating right now?)

Perhaps the journalism field could learn a thing or two from these IT mentoring programs — except, instead of building communication skills, today’s reporters could pair up with the industry’s curmudgeons, who would relay old stories about the difficulties of filling newspapers and broadcasts before the days of computers, the Internet, and Lindsay, Paris and Britney.

Or maybe that’s just a pipe dream. Regardless, I’d like to hear about your experiences with mentoring programs, both good and bad. Send me your stories at sarah@certmag.com.

Sarah Stone Wunder
Managing Editor
sarah@certmag.com

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