Conferences: Why Bother?

I attended the SWE annual conference last week and wanted to share a few insights about the benefits of attending conferences.

Conferences are great ways to connect with others in your field. As a graduate student, you most likely have attended a conference and made a poster presentation or an oral presentation of your research. If you haven’t, I definitely recommend talking with your research advisor about submitting abstracts in an effort to be selected to present at a conference. This gives you an opportunity to not only build your CV but to practice concisely communicating your research to others, to network with others in your field which may open up future research collaboration opportunities or employment, and to learn current, in-progress research that may be relevant to your research.

SWE offers two types of conferences: the annual international “WE” conference held each year in early fall (over 14,000 attendees this year!)  and the “WE Local” conferences held throughout the year around the United States, India and Europe. One of the main advantages of these conferences is the variety of events and sessions offered.  Since SWE includes all engineering and science disciplines, the conferences are technically neutral, or should I say “all-inclusive”. Most of the sessions apply to all attendees and center around career success, professional development and work-life balance. There are presentations grouped under eleven different tracks (below) as well as a career fair with over 350 exhibitors (including universities and organizations)

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Other elements of Conference include:

*keynote speakers*hospitality suites*K-12 outreach*local tours*poster competition*tech talks*

Pictures from WE18 Conference can be seen here.

As a member of leadership, conference was a great opportunity to meet in-person other members of leadership with whom I collaborate. I also connected with speakers after their talk, providing a way to get advice or more information in the future on a topic that is of interest and relevant to me.

You have a near-term opportunity to participate in an upcoming WE Local Conference and earning a $250 stipend if you make it as a finalist in the WE Local Collegiate Competition. Submit your abstract before the deadline of Friday, November 2, 2018

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Check out the Hospitality Suites at WE18!

One of the most exciting events at the annual SWE conferences is the Hospitality Suites. This event consists of a series of rooms in the conference center featuring numerous companies. Each suite will give you insight into the company culture as several employees will be available for casual networking.

If you are looking for a job or internship, be sure to check out the companies you’d like to target for applications – networking opportunities can lead to interviews, and will certainly give you more information about what the company values and how the company operates.

Even if you’re not currently looking for a position, visiting the hospitality suites can still help you build your network and stretch your networking skills!

Some tips to keep in mind while milling through the hospitality suites:

  1. Each suite will typically provide some appetizers and potentially alcoholic beverages. If you decide to drink any alcohol offered, be responsible. Remember that you have had a long and exhausting day at conference so you may start to feel tipsy sooner than usual!
  2. Not sure which companies to look at? Attend the hospitality suites with friends! Get a broad overview of different company cultures, regardless of specific field.
  3. Talk to a variety of people at a number of different suites – you can get new ideas about jobs that you might be interested in!
  4. Bring business cards! These are an amazing networking tool – by exchanging business cards, you can continue your networking connections after conference.

 

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If you are attending WE18 in Minneapolis, the hospitality suites will be Thursday, October 18th, from 8:00-10:00PM. Look for the Hospitality Suites in the conference app or online planner for a list of hosting companies!

You’re more valuable than you think – and GradSWE needs you!

I’ve seen several colleagues go through their graduate career and get to the ‘mid-life crisis’ point. You may be familiar with it: frustration at experiments or advisors, trouble finding a job, proposals get rejected, wondering if you made the right decision entering grad school in the first place. The good news is, that phase is a common symptom of people who are nearing the completion of grad school, if they resolve to be finished and move on to bigger and better things.

It’s at this point that many people seek mentors. And GradSWE can help with that, connecting you to people who can offer encouragement, share their journeys in your particular field, be a sounding board for you next steps, and serve as role models in a career path you may be interested in.

But what you may not realize is that there are many grad students and undergrads in GradSWE who would love to talk to someone like you too, for the exact same reasons you may be interested in a mentor yourself! Your experiences presenting at lab meetings and conferences, drafting articles on your research, working in industry, figuring out which experiment to run next and how, juggling lab and classes and life, learning about potential career paths in your field, and many, many other things you’ve accomplished even in your first few years are nuggets of gold to those aspiring to follow in your footsteps. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? What do you wish you knew? You already have all you need to make a very real difference in someone’s life. And what’s more, you might just learn something yourself, gain a great connection or friendship, and develop the marketable skills of training and developing others.

So if you’re interested in getting connected and sharing the love, we’d love to have you as part of GradSWE’s mentoring program! To learn more about it, visit http://gradswe.swe.org/mentoring.html or email the Mentoring Team at gradswementoring@gmail.com. To become a mentor, simply fill out the form with a few details on your experiences ( https://goo.gl/forms/M13dEyBkJYZKgCMW2 ). If you’re a grad student interested in getting connected to a mentor yourself, you can enroll through this link:  https://goo.gl/forms/zNHhPv6Al2bhL4I33 . And remember, you’re more valuable than you think, and we’d love to have you as a mentor!

 

Angelica Payne

GradSWE Mentoring Co-Coordinator 2018

WE18 is almost here!

It is officially October which means that WE18 is right around the corner! Now is the time to start preparing for the conference so that you can get the most from the experience.

UPLOAD YOUR RESUME: On the job market? Upload your resume ahead of time to make sure companies know you are available.

CHECK OUT THE WE18 EXHIBITORS: There will be more than 300 exhibitors at the WE18 career fair! Take some time to pick out the specific exhibitors you are interested in meeting.

Career Fair Hours

Thursday, Oct 18:
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Professional and Collegiate members only)
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (all registrants, including Career Fair only)

Friday, October 19:
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. professionals only (members and non-members)
10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Professional and Collegiate members only)
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (all registrants, including Career Fair only)

USE THE MOBILE APP: WE18 is a HUGE conference with more sessions than you could possibly attend. Make the most of your time by using the mobile app to build your schedule and stay organized!

TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMERS: Check out the podcast by FY19 SWE President Penny Wirsing and FY17 SWE President Jessica Rannow about tips and advice for First-Timers at WE18.

Finally, don’t forget to come to our GradSWE specific sessions:

Thursday, October 18th

  • 12:45-1:45 PM | Big Step for Me, Giant Leap for SWE-Kind: Staying Involved in SWE After College
  • 2:00-3:00 PM | Life after Grad School: Transitioning from Graduate Student to Professional
  • 4:30-5:30 PM | Preparing Powerful Application Essays

Friday, October 19th

  • 9:30 AM-6PM | Collegiate Poster Competition
  • 10:15-11:45 AM | Rapid Fire 1: Graduate Students
  • 4:30-5:30 PM | A Tale of Two PhDs and The Value of Diversity (may be rescheduled)
  • 3:00-5:00 PM | Graduate Member Meeting
  • 5:00-6:30 PM | Graduate Student Reception (Sponsors: Autodesk and Praxair)

Saturday, October 20th

  • 12:45-1:45 PM | Embracing Failures in Academia to Break Personal Boundaries
  • 1:30-1:50 PM | Utilizing Online Platforms for Self-Promotion: Personal Websites and Social Media

We highly encourage participation in these sessions led by your fellow peers and academics. It can be an impactful learning experience, and high attendance numbers demonstrate that the graduate population in SWE continues to grow!

If you cannot attend WE18, watch for graduate programming at 2019 WE Locals or at WE19.

Any questions about programming at WE18 can be emailed to gradsweprogramming@gmail.com

Becoming a Pro at Self-Promotion

“Look at the tower I built!”  “Wanna hear me count to 50?”  “Watch me ride my bike!”

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If you’ve spent time around kids, you know that they are often uninhibited in sharing about their recent accomplishments and abilities. Maybe you’ve babysat or have nieces, nephews or kids of your own, but you know about the persistent and passionate pleas of a child to pay attention to them!

But somewhere along the way, many of us were told, overtly or subliminally, that bragging and being ostentatious is not ladylike. This culture that encourages female modesty fosters a workplace where women are less likely to talk about their achievements than men.

Advocating for oneself in the academy and industry is key for demonstrating leadership skills and therefore achieving upward advancement, but for many of us, it is also risky. When we go against the norm of humility and brag about our accomplishments, we may be perceived as too strong, pushy, and less likeable, even by other women. For introverts and anxious types it can be especially uncomfortable to bring attention to oneself. It’s not always easy, but tasteful self-promotion is something we should all practice.

Here are some tips to become a pro at self-promotion!

  1. Be proud of your successes! You worked hard for them and the world deserves to celebrate with you.
  2. Reclassify the task. Terms like “bragging” can carry a negative connotation. Consider your self-promotion “networking” or “increasing visibility.” It’s just like any other leadership skill!
  3. Be yourself. Find ways to authentically promote yourself in ways that make sense for your personality and your industry.
  4. If not your own, then promote the work of others. Women are generally more comfortable with advocating for others than for themselves and maybe with some practice you’ll feel empowered to promote yourself. Alternatively, create safe spaces for self-promotion in your lab or community!

Ready to give it a shot? Check out Carolyn’s post about developing a personal website, nominate yourself to be considered for a GradSWE Spotlight or WE Local award and be sure to share with us how you are promoting your amazing accomplishments in the comments or on social media (@SWE_grad)!

 

Meet our WE18 Sponsors: Praxair

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We are pleased to announce Praxair is sponsoring the Graduate Student Reception (Friday, October 19th at 5:00 pm) and the Rapid Fire research presentation competition at WE18. Through this sponsorship, Praxair and GradSWE members can connect for networking, professional development, and career opportunities. Praxair is interested in students like you!

Praxair is a leading industrial gas company in North and South America and one of the largest worldwide. With market capitalization of approximately $40 billion and 2017 sales of $11 billion, the company employs over 26,000 people globally and has been named to the Dow Jones® World Sustainability Index for 15 consecutive years. Praxair produces, sells and distributes atmospheric, process and specialty gases, and high-performance surface coatings. Our products, services and technologies are making our planet more productive by bringing efficiency and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, primary metals and many others.

Check out their career areas and/or career opportunities for more information. If you’d like, feel free to explore their social media on LinkedIn and Instagram!

Meet our WE18 Sponsors: Autodesk

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We are pleased to announce Autodesk is sponsoring the Graduate Student Reception at WE18 (Friday, October 19th at 5:00 pm). Through this sponsorship, Autodesk and GradSWE members can connect for networking, professional development, and career opportunities. Autodesk is interested in students like you! They hire interns in many business functions including Engineering, Design, and Business so feel free to come prepared with questions you may have about their program!

Whether you are attending the conference or not, be sure to check out their Careers Page for more information. Learn about their career opportunities for graduating students.

Check out their LinkedIn and even their Instagram!