I get many emails and questions about how graduate students can get involved in SWE during graduate school. There are lots of ways — through your section, your region, and even at the Society-level. Read through the different ways to get involved below, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
Are you a member of a collegiate section?
Does your collegiate section have a Grad SWE group? Get involved in that! Grad groups are always looking for people who are eager to plan events! To look through the current list of grad groups, check out the Local Grad Groups page of the blog.
Does your collegiate section not have a Grad SWE group? Perhaps you can start one! Work with your section officers to figure out the best way for the grad group to start. Note that there can only be one collegiate section per college/university. For more information on starting a grad group, check out the Resources page of the blog. You may also want to contact your Region Graduate Representative (RGR) for help in setting up the grad group. You can find out who your RGR is on the Region Grad Reps page of the blog. If your region doesn’t have an RGR or you have additional questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Of course, you can always get involved in the collegiate section as a member of their leadership structure outside of graduate student activities.
Are you a member of a professional section?
Perhaps you can offer to organize events for graduate students in your area, or set up networking/mentoring events between the graduate students and other members of the professional section, e.g. coffee chats. Is there a collegiate section nearby? Why not offer to set up events connecting the professional and collegiate sections? You can also run for the professional section positions.
Are you not a member of any section? Do you want to join a section?
Check out the SWE Sections page to see if there is a section near you! You can also find links to the section website where you can find more information on their contact info, events, and more! http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/membership/swe-sections
There are plenty of opportunities for graduate students to get involved in SWE at the Society-level, but mainly these involve joining committees. To read more about each committee check out this SWE document. Once you’ve decided on a committee that interests you, sign up at this SurveyMonkey site. Each committee can benefit from having a graduate student on the committee, so choose the one that most interests you! I’ve been involved on the Program Development Grant committee for a few years now and find it very interesting and satisfying work.
The Graduate Community is not technically a committee within SWE, thus the “Community” part of our name. But we do need people to serve on the leadership team! You can read about each of our leadership positions as well as the people who currently hold them on our Leadership Team page. Applications for the Graduate Programming Coordinator Elect position will be available following Conference while the other applications are released in the spring, usually due April 1st, and are part of the SWE-wide committee leadership application process. The application is simple and usually consists of only a few questions like: “Why do you want this position” and “What goals do you have for this position and the Graduate Community”. Keep an eye out for these applications!
The Grad Community is also involved with Annual Conference planning. We work together to submit abstracts in March, and then plan the sessions which are accepted. If you are interested in helping to plan Conference sessions, stay tuned to the Blog and Facebook for more information in the months immediately following Conference. We typically have a conference call early in the calendar year to decide who is responsible for each abstract submission.
If none of those methods of getting involved appeal to you, here’s an easy one: spread the word! Tell your graduate student friends about SWE and the Graduate Community and invite them to events or meetings — perhaps this community is exactly what they had been searching for. Tell the undergrads you may mentor or interact with about the Graduate Community, because they may decide to go to graduate school and find this community helpful and supportive as they begin the journey. In general: spread the word! Give them the URL to this blog and our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/swegrad/
Why get involved?
I love SWE. I love the community and support it has given me as I went through my undergrad, MS, and PhD. I look forward to the environment it will provide me as I begin my career. Serving SWE by being involved at the Section, Region, and Society levels has allowed me to share this passion with fellow graduate students from my local section to my region and across the country (and world!). The difference you can make in someone’s life by being involved with SWE and giving back to your community is tremendous. Get involved. You’ll be amazed at what happens.