Collective Wisdom Groups
Bringing together members in similar stages of their career, providing peer support.
Maybe you’ve seen Collective Wisdom Groups (or CWGs) mentioned in previous SWE emails or on the website, or maybe this is the first you’ve heard of them. Either way, the SWE RMS CWGs are currently looking for new members and our coordinator and members would love to tell you more! Keep reading for a discussion with SWE RMS members about frequently asked questions and see if CWGs are a fit for you! For more information about CWGs and to participate yourself, see our flyer, sign up, or email email@example.com with any questions.
Collective Wisdom Groups (CWG) bring together members in similar stages of their career, providing peer support. Program participants will commit to four to six months of participation, with the goal of weekly or biweekly meetings. Due to COVID-19 the meetings will be virtually with the possibility of meeting in person if members are comfortable with it. There will be 4-6 SWE professionals per group, and meetings will typically have a discussion topic/theme. There is time as well for informal relationship building and talking through challenges that members may be facing at work. Each group will have a mentor guide, a SWE professional with a wealth of experience and perspectives to share with the group, checking in with them about once per month.
Not sure if CWGs are for you? Read what Sarah has to say.
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More About CWGs
What is a Collective Wisdom Group (CWG)?
This is a unique opportunity for group mentoring. It is a SWE-sponsored program that brings together members in similar stages of their career, providing peer support. Program participants will commit to nine months of participation, with the goal of bi-weekly meetings. Meetings may be in-person, over the phone, or a video call, and it is ideal to meet in person when possible.
There will be 3-6 SWE professionals per group, and meetings will typically have a discussion topic/theme. There is time as well for informal relationship building and talking through challenges that members may be facing at work. Each group will have a mentor checking in with them about once per month, a SWE professional with a wealth of experience and perspectives to share with the group. Please read below to see what previous program participants have to say about CWG:
What are some examples of topics/themes your CWG discussed?
During the first few meetings we had specific topics, but towards the end of our year together, it was just a natural flow of conversation about relevant topics in each other’s lives. Some of the early topics I recall are things like “How to work with difficult supervisors”, “Personal Finances”, “Giving Feedback on presentations to help practice before we had to give them at work,” and “Updating Resumes and LinkedIn.”Victoria
What was the most valuable thing you gained from your participation in a CWG?
The network and personal relationship with the other group members.Victoria
Connections to other engineers in a similar career stage to mine (but in different fields so I got to hear about interesting technical topics), and also to our mentor that met with our group monthly.Kaitlyn
A personal network and friendships that I can count on for professional and personal advice.Ashley
A network of friends to discuss work life balance.Amber
Getting to know the other members and confidence to pursue my new career direction.Linda
Have you kept in touch with the support network you formed during your initial six months of the program?
Yes! We still meet about monthly to discuss books or interesting articles we’ve read, issues we’ve run into, etc and frankly, because we like talking to each other!Casey
Completely. It’s been a few years since we were in the group, but we still keep in contact. Museums outings, fun gatherings, email each other to ask for advice.Amber
Were you able to talk about any challenges you were facing at work during your CWG meetings in a “safe space?” If so, what form did this take and how did it help you?
Absolutely. My group helped me with a transition issue I was having at work when I took on a new position. They always heard me out, were sympathetic and had constructive recommendations and criticism when necessary. In the end my CWG helped empower me to gracefully create change in my work situation.Casey
Yes we were, and our group was great because we were all at similar points in our career, while also facing different challenges. We were able to talk about challenges we were facing and truly empathize with one another, while each bringing something unique to the conversation. We maintained a safe space by respecting each other’s honesty and maintaining confidences (agreeing not to talk about the specifics of our conversations outside of the group).Kaitlyn
Yes. Everyone felt free to discuss tough topics and situations. The group maintained positive feedback, which helped us to talk through issues and work through potential solutions.Ashley
How were you able to find the time to meet regularly with the group?
Each of us agreed early on to make it a priority in our lives. It wasn’t easy, we had members that traveled a lot, but with it being a priority we made it happen. Then we got along so well, that we wanted to meet up each week!Victoria
We worked to make our meetings a priority, even though we were all quite busy! We decided to schedule 30-minute meetings every week. That way if we had to cancel one due to work travel or other commitments, it wasn’t long until the next meeting came up.Kaitlyn
We made sure to meet in places that were convenient to each of us that were also interesting or new.Ashley
When we couldn’t meet due to inclement weather or travel, we would set up video chat or a phone conference to still meet.Amber
How did your participation in the group help you to advance your career?
Our CWG spent a lot of time developing individual career & life goals. Through our research, individual experiences and our mentors’ guidance we all created a much better idea of our aspirations and what made us thrive. Personally, my “goal blob” [the fact that it was free form was an important characteristic, particularly for someone type A like me] helped me put into action a career transition to a new department that was always lurking in the back of my mind but always too risky to pursue. I’m now in that new department in a new role that has set my career on an entirely new and improved trajectory.Casey
Having feedback from others that were 3rd party to career events gave me an outside view of the situation I was in. The group was very supportive of each other and helped build my self confidence. I think this lead to me being willing to take a leap of faith and move to a new city to follow a new job opportunity. This was a job I was recruited for from across the country through LinkedIn which was probably due to the session we had helping set up each other’s profiles.Victoria
The ability to discuss conflicts with a like minded group allowed me to turn conflicts into opportunities. These opportunities led to increased responsibilities and a promotion within my group.Ashley
Just knowing that I wasn’t the only one with hardships. It was great having a community of women in engineering to discuss what we were dealing with.Amber
After taking long career break to stay home with my kids, I decided to get back into engineering. Participating in the CWG was a key factor in my being able to articulate the direction I wanted to take, researching options, and taking action. I am now in a graduate degree program in a field which I find exciting and challenging and in which I am excelling. I am feeling more confident in my career direction.Linda