Keywords: mentoring, training, support networks
Mentoring is critical to the growth of data scientists, regardless of gender; it is the accumulation of moments of support that make a workplace welcoming, and make resolving challenging tasks manageable. As an example, we present the AT&T Big Data for Social Good’s Growth for Good program.
As AT&T and other large companies transform into data-centric businesses, a new generation of data scientists must be trained to handle the unique challenges of Big Data. The Growth for Good program aims to ease and accelerate this process by nurturing employees wishing to “pivot.” Employees with some preliminary training are given the opportunity to get hands-on experience working on a “real” Big Data project. The difference between classroom and “the trenches” could not be more stark: not only are teams expected to deliver results, but they must do so while overcoming a steep learning curve. A number of mentors are present to guide the teams and provide support that extends past the end of one project. Thus the Growth for Good program provides a venue for employees wishing to pivot to new roles, but also empowers mentors to explore leadership roles.