'Mentoring really changes lives'
Raytheon volunteers serve as career counselors, cyber coaches, STEM tutors
They work face-to-face with military veterans, guiding them as they make the leap into civilian life. They coach collegiate computer hackers in the ways of cybersecurity. They spend their evenings at high schools and welcome busloads of students to company campuses, teaching the basics of what it takes to become an engineer.
They are Raytheon’s corps of volunteer mentors – employees who give back by sharing the knowledge they’ve acquired as engineers, scientists, military veterans and business leaders. And they are among hundreds of company employees who are receiving The President’s Volunteer Service Award as part of National Volunteer Week.
The mentors’ volunteer work also reflects several of Raytheon’s main corporate social responsibility efforts: helping military veterans succeed after their service, building the ranks of cybersecurity professionals, and promoting education in science, technology, engineering and math.
Raytheon’s mentoring programs include:
American Corporate Partners: Raytheon provides employee mentors to this nonprofit organization, which helps military veterans choose and identify civilian career paths. American Corporate Partners has helped more than 6,000 veterans since 2008.
National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition: Raytheon cybersecurity experts mentor students from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Southern Methodist University and Radford University for this competition, where teams defend mock businesses from a series of constant, realistic cyberattacks. The competition is the largest of its kind in the United States.
STEM tutoring: Raytheon employees across the country – including in Tucson, Arizona and Tewksbury, Massachusetts – mentor middle- and high-school students in math and science. Some of those programs are geared specifically toward young women, who represent only 13 percent of the U.S. engineering workforce.
'I was raised to help people'
Amy Faust took one look at the Air Force captain’s resume and knew they’d have some work to do.
The problem wasn’t that the captain lacked qualifications – she was an expert in logistics and had served all around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem was she needed better words to describe what she could do.
Faust, a Raytheon systems engineer in Tucson, Arizona and an American Corporate Partners volunteer, was counseling the young captain on applying for private-sector jobs. Her advice was clear: Less about your individual achievements, more about how you helped your team succeed.
“Once we tweaked her resume, she just kept getting offers for interviews,” Faust said.
The two will continue working together for a minimum of a year, and Faust said she looks forward to helping other veterans as well.
“I was raised to help people,” she said. “That should be my goal: to help other people succeed in life.”
Cyber as a career? Sure, but think harder
Mirek Bartik likes helping college students who say they want to work in cybersecurity. He just wishes they would say it a different way.
“The field is so huge that saying you want to work in cyber really ill-prepares you to enter the workforce and succeed in any one aspect,” said Bartik, a Raytheon cybersecurity engineer. “You could be a crypto guy. You could be an intrusion detection analyst. Those are two totally different skill sets.”
Helping those students find their focus is part of the reason Bartik mentors a team from the University of Texas at San Antonio for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. The team meets weekly – and sometimes more often – throughout the school year to prepare for the competition. Along the way, they find what they like through specific exercises, such as setting up secure file-transfer servers and "red team/blue team" battles, where students attack and defend mock computer networks.
Bartik’s team made it to the finals last year – the team from the University of Central Florida won – but for him, the victory came afterward. Most of the team members already had job offers waiting for them after graduation. One did not. Bartik took him to the competition’s job fair and changed that.
“I walked him down to every booth and talked to everyone. He had two offers coming out of the career fair,” he said. “That was the greatest feeling ever – to get the last guy hooked up with a job.”
FORGING A BOND
It’s a good thing Kim Pham followed her high school calculus teacher’s advice.
Pham was a junior at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when her teacher urged her to apply for Stand and Deliver, a math-and-science mentoring program where students travel to Raytheon once a week for a one-on-one session with a company expert.
Pham’s mentor, Joe Wong, helped her with schoolwork. He also guided her in choosing and applying to colleges; she picked Brown University, Wong’s alma mater.
“Kim was a very curious learner, and strong academically,” Wong said. “Needless to say, I am very proud of Kim and all that she has accomplished.”
All that was several years ago, by the way. Pham now works at an education technology company in New York City. Wong is retired. They remain friends; Wong and his wife visit her often.
“I am incredibly grateful to Joe,” she said. “Mentoring really changes lives. It changed mine.”