The 2016 conference in St. John’s, NL, was the first national CES conference I had ever attended and while there were many interesting presentations, one of the sessions that left me the most excited was the Fellows & Entrants Strand. The idea behind the development of this F&E Strand was to co-construct a space for Entrants (those who are new to the field) to engage with Fellows (senior evaluators with distinguished contributions to the field) – and engage we did!
In this inaugural session, a group of seven Fellows and over 30 Entrants opened up a dialogue about the needs and interests of new evaluators. Common themes emerged among Entrants’ stories, including a strong interest in having time with senior evaluators to ask questions and seek advice about the practice of evaluation, to exchange ideas and to get career advice. As an Entrant, I remember feeling both happy and relieved to have connected with a group of people who were going through similar experiences and challenges and who had the same kinds of questions as I did! It was also encouraging to see how keen the Fellows were to listen to these exchanges and learn about how to support Entrants’ in our diverse evaluation paths.
Building on the 2016 session, this year’s Fellows & Entrants session will use a speed networking format whereby Entrants gather in small discussion groups with a Fellow for 20 minutes then rotate on to the next. Each session will begin with the Fellow talking about how they got started in evaluation then the rest of the time will be for Entrants to ask Fellows all those questions about evaluation that have been percolating in our heads. Being able to learn from the wisdom and insights of senior evaluators through this F&E Strand will have positive impacts not only on individual Entrants but on the field of evaluation itself.
This F&E Strand has emerged during a time of surging interest in new and emerging evaluators across Canada and internationally. In my home (CES-BCY) chapter, Carolyn Camman (@c_camman) and I have been co-coordinating a New & Emerging Evaluator’s group, hosting learning and social events and developing a communication hub to connect students and new evaluators from across the region. Other CES chapters have also begun to implement innovative initiatives to engage new evaluators, such as on-the-job mentoring. In the US this year, there are at least two conferences specifically for students and new evaluators, EviE and DC SCEP. Internationally, EvalYouth, a new global organization dedicated to supporting youth and new evaluators, has come on the scene.
If you are a new and emerging evaluator, we encourage you to get engaged in as many ways as possible! One great way is to come to the Fellows & Entrants Speed Networking Session at C2017 and be a part of the dialogue. It is taking place on Tuesday, May 2nd in Salon 2. All Entrants are welcome!
- Key words: Fellows & Entrants, new and emerging evaluators, students, action, innovation
- Bio (max 30 words): Michelle Naimi is a Master of Evaluation candidate at the University of Melbourne and a Vancouver-based evaluation consultant. She is also the Student Engagement Coordinator with the CESBCY and co-coordinator of the New & Emerging Evaluator’s Network.
- Twitter handle: @Michelle_Naimi