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 ( 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.




One thought on “Grad Students as Professionals

  1. Pingback: Tips for starting a Grad SWE group | Society of Women Engineers - Graduate Community

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