Frequently Asked Questions about being a Participant in the IETF Mentoring Program
- What is the IETF Mentoring Program?
The goal of the IETF Mentoring Program is to match experienced IETF participants
with newcomers in order to aid their integration into the IETF community through
advice, help, and collected wisdom. The guidance provided by the mentors should
speed up the time it takes for newcomers to become active, contributing members
of the IETF.
- What is an IETF mentor?
A mentor plays the role of advisor, coach, teacher, and guide. The combinations of
roles allows a mentor to provide the guidance needed to assist the mentoring participant
in developing the skills needed to participate effectively within the IETF standards
While anyone can volunteer to be a mentor, it is expected that the most mentors will
not hold IESG, IAB, or WG Chair positions (due to time/scheduling issues).
- Is the mentoring program restricted to certain kinds of people?
The program is focuses on mentoring participants who are newcomers to the IETF, but is open to all.
- How are matches made between mentors and participants?
A small group of IETF participants have volunteered to act as coordinators. The coordinators
have areas of expertise and will work with the characteristics identified by the mentoring participants
to match them with mentors who have similar interests and areas of work.
- What happens after a mentor and mentoring participant are matched?
Once a match has been made, the mentor should initiate contact with the mentoring participant. After
that, the interactions are up to them. Useful interactions will vary
based on the needs of the mentoring participant and the skills of the mentor. In the event that a
mentor or mentoring participant is unresponsive or the pair decide that the match is not constructive,
the coordinators can be contacted to request a new pairing.
- How does the mentoring program work?
During IETF meeting registration, newcomers will be identified and given the opportunity
to request a mentor. After the request is made, the mentor coordinators will assess the
areas of interest of the newcomer and select a mentor from a pool of volunteers. The
mentor will be selected based on areas of common interest between the mentor and mentoring participant.
After the match is made, an introductory e-mail will be sent to the mentor and mentoring participant
in order to provide contact information. After that, it is up to the mentor and mentoring participant
to determine how the relationship will progress. After the face-to-face IETF meeting, the
mentor program will send out a brief questionnaire to determine how well the program is
- As a mentoring participant, what should I get out of the relationship?
Ideally, a mentoring participant will come away with a better understanding of the IETF, knowledge of
the standards development process, and someone to turn to when questions arise. Each
person's needs will be different and the mentoring program should be flexible enough to
assist with those needs.
- What does it take to be a good mentoring participant?
The biggest key is being willing to learn. The IETF community can be different, so a
mentoring participant should be willing to listen to a different perspective (the mentor's).
A participant should also be proactive in asking questions so that the relationship is driven by the
participant's needs and not the mentor's view.