SWE Graduate Community Live Google Hangout

The Live Google Hangout starts tonight at 7:30 PM CDT!

We will begin with some introductions and then some general info about SWE and graduate student involvement. Then there will be plenty of time for YOUR questions. You are welcome to leave your questions here in the comments or in the comments on Youtube.

WeSTEM at UIUC is now accepting applications!

Hello everyone!

I am very glad to share the following announcement about WeSTEM:

Our flagship initiative, the Women Empowered in STEM (weSTEM) conference, provides graduate students with access to current and future STEM leaders, lending insight into diverse career paths stemming from a graduate degree. Unlike other conferences, weSTEM focuses on graduate school. Through lectures, workshops, and breakout sessions, we will discuss and address those issues that are unique to the graduate student experience. At weSTEM, you will meet successful women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You will be motivated to complete your degree and inspired to excel in your future career!
weSTEM is scheduled for Saturday, February 7, 2015 at the I Hotel and Conference Center at UIUC. Applications to attend weSTEM are now open. Financial support is available for travel and accommodation - apply early to ensure consideration for funding!
Ritu Raman
Publicity Chair, GradSWE at Illinois


Staying motivated in research is hard…

Well, summer is over and the school year has once again begun. We’re all back to the grindstone balancing classes, research, TA-ing, perhaps job-searching, and of course, life. How many times do you find yourself on news sites, Reddit, Facebook, or other sites during the day? How about staring blankly at your computer screen?

Often times it can be difficult to stay motivated and accomplish the research tasks that you know you need to accomplish in order to inch ever closer to graduation. This is particularly true if research is all that you’re doing and not taking classes at the same time. I saw an article on this very topic of staying motivated and thought I would share/summarize its points as well as provide a few more tips of my own.

(1) Keep a victory list — Make sure to remind yourself of all you’re doing and accomplishing on a regular basis. Often times, I look at my CV/resume and am amazed at all that has happened since I started graduate school. If you keep a research journal, looking back upon several months worth of entries will show you the progress (even if it’s small) that you’ve made.

(2) Revisit your goals — Are you a list maker? I am. At the beginning of a semester (including the summer), I always make a list of what I am going to accomplish that semester. Then, I think about it on a monthly basis…what do I need to focus on this month to make sure I accomplish my semester goals? Then, each Monday morning, since I don’t want to work right away anyway, I write my goals for the week. Breaking the research goals down in this manner cuts your semester into easy-to-accomplish tidbits.

A quick note — if a task pops up that isn’t on your goal list for the week and isn’t time-critical, write it down for the next week. Unless it’s vital to finishing your weekly goals, you can easily get side-tracked and go down some serious rabbit holes by following things that pop up. (That’s what the “Future Work” section is for, right?)

(3) Listen to inspiring people — This was an interesting thought in the article. I realized that this is critical to how I’ve continued to motivate myself, whether I realized it or not. I am a news junkie, and I also love participating in SWE Webinars. By listening to other peoples’ stories, specifically people in positions to which I aspire, I am reminded of all that I want to accomplish.

(4) Do Outreach — I love interacting with little kids. They are so naturally curious, it is like a immunity boost. It’s also a great experience practicing explaining what you do in simple terms.


My additions to the article’s list:

(5) Surround yourself with a positive network — Grad SWE has been instrumental in my surviving graduate school. Having periodic get-togethers and professional development events is another example of a shot in the arm. I love seeing and hearing what my fellow female graduate students are doing in their research. Outside of school, my husband and our families are a huge support, and are always so excited to hear how my research is going. These types of positive influences inspire me to continue making progress, especially now that I am so close to defending and graduating.

(6) Make sure to have fun and take breaks — Sitting at a bench or at your computer for 8-10 hours a day can be draining. On a small scale, make sure to get up at least once an hour and take a small break – go talk to a friend, take a walk around the building, go get coffee, just get away from your desk/bench for a bit. On a larger scale, assuming your advisor is okay with it, take a day off every once in awhile. There are studies which show that Americans tend to work too much and are too stressed for our own good. Having a mental sanity day can do a lot to relieve stress which built up over the course of several weeks or even months. Do things you love. Whether that’s shopping, reading a good book, playing with your dog, sleeping, or watching movies doesn’t matter as long as it’s not at all related to research. You’ll come back recharged and ready to make more progress.

(7) Exercise – It’s amazing what a 30 minute walk can do to clear your head. When I was trying to figure out how to creatively solve some research problems, I would simply go walk around campus. Naturally, I started thinking about the problem, but I was able to come up with some solutions simply because I was thinking about it in, literally, a different way. Exercise became part of my stress-relieving routine during my preparation for the PhD qualifying exams. Every day I would go to the gym after studying and let off steam. Now, it has become part of my weekly routine. I find that I am much less stressed out on a daily basis when I work out. If I don’t go to the gym for several days, I can feel the stress bubbling up inside me and I tend to be cranky until I can get down to the gym.


I hope those tips and tricks have helped you. If you have things that you do which weren’t mentioned above, please add them in the comment section below! We can all benefit from one another’s experience!

The original article can be found at: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/staying-motivated-stem

Grad SWE Live Google Hangout!

Please join the SWE graduate community leadership for a live google hangout on Monday, September 15th at 7:30 PM CDT (8:30 PM EDT/6:30 PM MDT/5:30 PDT)!

You will be able to view the Live Hangout Youtube video here on the blog, or you can find the link our Facebook page.  Don’t worry if you can’t make the live broadcast we will keep the video up and you can watch it later!

We will be discussing the individual positions in the grad community leadership, some of our plans for this coming year, and other issues that affect graduate students in SWE.

WE WILL ALSO BE TAKING QUESTIONS! You can post questions on blog, on Facebook in the Youtube comments.  You can also email questions ahead of time to grad-coordinator@swe.org.

Special Opportunities Available to Graduate Students attending WE14

Announcing 2 unique events that will be occuring at WE14 (http://we14.swe.org/) with limited spots open for graduate students. These events do not require any additional cost but you will be responsible for your own cost for travel and conference registration.  

The first event is the Collegiate Leadership Institute at WE14 (Thurs – Saturday Oct 23-25th). It is 3 half day sessions spread over three days. The complete Collegiate Leadership Institute Agenda with speaker bios: CLI_agenda_7_28_14. Only 10 spots are available for graduate students.

The second opportunity is a luncheon with Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd. It will be on Friday Oct 24th from 11:45-12:45 pm at the J.W Marriott. We have room for 40 graduate students to attend the luncheon. This luncheon is part of the Academic Women Workshop.  

If you would like to have a spot reserved for you to participate in either or both of these events please complete this form before Sept. 15, 2014. If you have questions you can contact Marcella Vaicik at (marcella.vaicik(at)swe.org)




What’s my region?

Classes are about to resume which means there are many new sets of graduate students beginning their studies. As someone who changed regions between undergrad and grad school, I was confused as to what my new region was when I began at UT-Austin. Here are some helpful resources for anyone switching regions or who may be curious as to what the other regions are up to.

SWE map of regions: http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/index.php/membership/swe-sections

Feel free to contact any of the Grad Community Leadership Team if you have a question regarding how to get involved in your region. You can also contact the Region Governor, or the Region Grad Student Rep listed on Region Grad Reps page of this blog.

If you have switched regions, make sure to contact SWE HQ to let them know by sending an email to Membership@swe.org. Make sure to include your membership number, your former section (professional or collegiate), and your new section (professional or collegiate). It is important to have the proper section connected to your profile for section financial purposes as well as general demographic information.

The Graduate Community is working with each region to ensure information regarding how graduate students can get involved with SWE may be found on all the websites and blogs. Lots of great information can be found on the region sites and blogs…check them out here:

Region A:

Website: http://www.swe-goldenwest.org/

Blog: http://regiona.wordpress.com/

Region B:

Website: http://sweregionb.org/

Blog: http://regionb.wordpress.com/

Region C:

Website: http://regionc.swe.org/

Blog: http://regionc.wordpress.com/

Region D:

Website: http://www.sweregiond.org/

Blog: http://regiond.wordpress.com/

Region E:

Website: http://regione.swe.org/

Blog: http://regione.wordpress.com/

Region F:

Website: http://regionf.swe.org/

Blog: http://regionf.wordpress.com/

Region G:

Website: http://www.swe.org/regiong/

Blog: http://regiong.wordpress.com/

Region H:

Website: http://regionh.swe.org/

Blog: http://regionh.wordpress.com/

Region i:

Website: http://regioni.swe.org/

Blog: http://regioni.wordpress.com/

Region J:

Website: http://regionj.swe.org/

Blog: http://regionj.wordpress.com/


As always, let us know your thoughts, be they comments, concerns, suggestions, or questions! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment area below, or send one of the Leadership Team a separate email!

Grad Students as Professionals

Grad Students as Professionals

Go find your shoulder pads  and giant cell phones because we are going to talk about professionals.

Go find your shoulder pads and giant cell phones because we are going to talk about professionals.

A lot of the time we, here in the community, talk about graduate students as being part of collegiate sections. We forget that there are many graduate students that are also working full or part-time.  There are also a lot of graduate students who have returned to full-time grad school after working for some time.  Even beyond that, there are graduate student that, for one reason or another, just feel more comfortable being a part of a professional section than a collegiate section.  Good news!  Any graduate student can be a professional member of SWE.  We have a whole page about the types of membership available and some helpful information for you to make your choice.  You can find that here.

I am actually a professional member because I worked for two years before I returned to full-time grad school.  If there were not such a strong community of grad students involved in SWE at my university I would probably be a member of my local professional sections.  Fun story, the very first collegiate section meeting I attended at my university, they thought I was the speaker because I am old.

So why would grad students want to participate in professional sections?

  • They work with other professional members.
  • Their schedule is more like that of a professional (family, other commitments) .
  • They want more industry connections.
  • They aren’t on campus very much.
  • Undergrads keep talking about Harry Potter and Twilight.

What can professional sections do to engage more graduate students?

  • Let them know you want them.
    • Contact the local university to see if there are graduate students involved in SWE.
    • Contact us (grad-coordinator@swe.org) and we can tell you if we know of any grad students in your area or we can post your sections info for grad students to find you.
    • Ask the local collegiate section to send out emails to grad students inviting them to your events.
    • If there is a graduate student group plan an event together.
  • Remember they are graduate students.
    • They may not be on a regular work schedule and they may not get the weekends off.  If they can’t make it to one event keep trying to schedule.
    • They may not be making very much money so unless the section is picking up the tab and the fancy restaurant grad students may not be able to attend.  Plan low or no cost events.  PRO-TIP: Graduate students, much like stray dogs love free food.  Including it in your event will always improve graduate student turn-out.
  •  They really want to a mentor.
    • Even though they are currently in school many of them are always thinking about what will they will do after graduation.  They want to know how you go to where you are.
    • They would love to hear about job openings.