How to Interview

You are interviewing for your dream job, how do you prepare? Every email, phone call or interview conversation you have with the recruiter or company is important.

The basic list of topics are found below:

  • Review your resume
  • Review the job description
  • Research the company
  • Practice the STAR interviewing method

Everyone prepares for interview differently.  I spend a lot of time researching the people and the company. Personally, I have found the following to be critical:

  • Research the interviewers through Linkedin
  • Prepare specific questions for each interviewer
  • Try to determine the following through the interview:
    • The leadership style of your manager.
    • The work environment.
    • The overall atmosphere of the company.

If possible finish all your prep for the interview in the afternoon before. This will allow you to relax the night before the interview. Day of the interview

  • Leave an extra half an hour early
  • Find a local coffee place where you can go if you are early
  • Stay positive and focused the entire interview – turn off or completely silence your phone
  • Take notes while each person is talking
  • Give business cards to each person
  • Follow-up within 24 hours with a thank you email to all interviewers whose contact information you have. Your notes will help to make each email individualized.

The most overlooked step is making sure to interview the employees of the company. Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions. When you are talking to other employees, try to determine the work environment. What is my ideal manager? How will I grow under the leadership?

Overall, if you want to have a good interview, you must prepare.

Grad Member Spotlight: Keke Chen

As we enter the new year, we’d like to introduce you to our International Team Leader, Keke Chen!

Keke - Bio

Keke Chen
PhD Candidate, Polymer Engineering, The University of Akron

Keke became a SWE member in 2015 during her PhD study in Polymer Engineering in The University of Akron. She is active in Akron Global Polymer Outreach and K-12 Outreach. During the year of 2015 to 2016, she served as the president of Chinese Students and Scholars Association, and organized several major events for the Chinese community in Akron, including the annual new year party. She obtained a master degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Iowa State University, and later she worked as a Research Engineer for SABIC in Shanghai for two years. During her job in Shanghai, she volunteered as a business mentor for Junior Achievement with local high schools.

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

Current I am in my fourth year of pursuing a PhD degree in Polymer Engineering. I expect to graduate during the year of 2018.

Give a brief explanation of your research.
My research topic is to utilize and understand different processing techniques to process medical grade polymers for biomedical application. One part is the fundamental study of hydrogen bonding effect on materials properties during processing using a real-time birefringence characterization. Another focus of my research is to develop a continuous roll-to-roll process for electrospinning nanofiber membranes with post-fabrication surface functionalization using “click” chemistry to impart antimicrobial properties.

What do you want to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
I would like to continue the research of polymer materials/process development in the industry settings. My career goal is to use my expertise in polymer engineering to translate new idea and processing techniques into actual products and solutions. I am particularly intrigued by biotechnology and hope to have the opportunities to work in biomedical field with design and processing development.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love doing yoga, hiking and biking (when weather permits). I also spend a lot of time with food, cooking, researching, and writing my own blog about food (in Mandarin though, but you can look!).

What’s a fun fact about you?

I am a lot older than how I look. I have seen the Aurora Borealis. I have also been to 4 continents and 12 countries.

Still time to savor 2017, GradSWE & You

As 2017 comes to an end, many people often look back over the year and reflect.  This refection period can also cause people to consider missed opportunities and even in some cases -their regrets.
When it comes to GradSWE, several of you may consider opportunities you did not serve or participate such as meetings, conferences or presentations.  With that being said I want to highlight ways you can still get involved in this last week of 2017.
A few options for you to consider include:
Joining the GradSWE Leadership Team -*Call for Graduate Programming Coordinator (GPC) -Elect*
If you are looking for an exciting opportunity to join the GradSWE leadership team and specifically work alongside the current GPC organizing graduate student focused events at the annual conference, then this opportunity is for you!  Apply here by December 31st!
Volunteering Opportunities
GradSWE and SWE always welcomes volunteers for various tasks including the request for judges for SWE Scholarships available in the spring.  For more information, click here.
Becoming A Mentor
If you are interested in growing the next generation of women engineers and/or have professional experiences you’d like to share with graduate students following a similar career path, the GradSWE mentoring program is for you!  You can sign up here and for more questions/clarifications, feel free to email our mentoring coordinators at
Staying up to date on Webinars and Podcasts
You can still gain access to informative webinars and podcasts to get encouraged as well as gain the necessary tools as you prepare toward the year ahead.
Attending Upcoming Events
You can prepare for upcoming events such as WE Local Tulsa, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Portland and Providence.  And for members interested in sharing your research, the 2018 Collegiate Competitions for both WE Local Portland and Providence are now accepting online abstract submissions.  The abstract submission deadlines for WE Local Portland and Providence are January 12, 2018 and January 26, 2018.   Be sure to sign up and share your innovative research efforts with the SWE community.
Stay connected for the latest WE Local events updates including other involvement opportunities such as conference volunteer and/or presenter openings.
GradSWEsters, there is still time to get engaged and work toward your goals!  Savor the remainder of the year 2017 and even get started on your 2018 ambitions today!

Interested in designing tools for STEM education?

Calling all graduate students interested in having an impact on future STEM education! The National Science Foundation is looking to fund research that supports the design of next generation digital learning environments for STEM. As graduate students, many of us have likely taken STEM courses or even taught portions of STEM courses. We are in the perfect transition zone to know what students in STEM courses need to supplement their learning, but can also appreciate the ease of implementation from a teaching standpoint. If you have ideas on how to improve STEM learning in a digital setting, or want to contribute to existing ideas, this is a great project to join! Specifically, the NSF is looking for projects focused on STEM learning environments in digital settings.

The NSF is asking for conference-type proposals that can be presented at the NSF at a conference with all other awardees. Graduate student and postdoc involvement is recommended in the proposal instructions! The ideal team will be able to describe the proposed perspectives on their digital learning platform, engage innovative design thinking to outline their ideas for a future learning environment, and describe the theoretical, methodological or programming obstacles that may need further research and development.

If this project submission is chosen by the NSF, the team will draft a white paper which will be shared with NSF staff and a broader audience, as well as use their digital platform to impact a range of audiences.

The deadline for this application proposal is January 22, 2018 so join the team now! To join, e-mail to be connected with other interested SWE members and start working on this project.


Find more information on this NSF-funded program here:


You are NOT a Failure: Just Lessons are Learned

Recently, I contemplated the idea of failure. Its such as daunting word and one which many people would rather not acknowledge. Commonly, failure can be regarded as not succeeding or omission in a task or one’s goal. And honestly, who would actually like to admit that?

However, I encourage you all to consider failures or mistakes as a step toward your success. When we fail or rather not succeed in our goal, lessons are learned and options can be crossed off. This typically will leave you in a better position to succeed going forward. Some regard failures as stepping stones for greatness and regarded as a step in which you simply fail gracefully. Embrace the mistakes and things along your path that makes your adventure your own!  Do not take it personally!  If your idea or goal was not a success, it should not equate to you being deemed as a failure.

Remember to continue to move forward -get back on the horse or back in the game! This can also create a moment of gratitude in knowing what did not work and going forward with an improved direction. You can be thankful and proud that you took that step of courage. Be excited about that move you did make even though it may have not  turned out as expected.   Know you gave it your best effort and made it that far as other people may not have been able to reach it to that step.

I say all this to hopefully encourage you all, but also highlight that in your future steps and path, you can take advantage of not only your GradSWE network, but our larger SWE family.  Our SWE membership consist of a talented range of women who could provide you guidance or insight on your paths ahead -do not be afraid to network!

Also, be sure to keep a look out for webinars & podcasts announcements, which can cover a range of topics whether considering graduate school, starting a business or transitioning careers. For more information on previous GradSWE webinars, click here! Also, if you have a relevant topic you would like to discuss for a webinar, click here!

As 2017 is winding now, be fearless and take those chances exploring new and exciting opportunities! You are stronger than you think -stay encouraged GradSWEsters!

Grad Member Spotlight: Margaret Scheiner

Margaret Scheiner


PhD candidate
P.E.O. Scholar
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Florida State University


Margaret has been a member of SWE since 2010. She currently serves as the Region D Graduate Representative and is an active SWE member at Florida State University. As an undergraduate, she served several different roles at Cornell University, including positions such as Outreach Chair and Corporate Relations Chair. Her combined efforts at both the section and region levels have greatly improved efforts to include more graduate students in SWE.

Margaret has been successful both in SWE and in her research experience. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University in Industrial Engineering, and expects to graduate in May 2018. She was selected to be a U.S.A. Delegate to the 2017 Lindau Meeting, which is sponsored by Lockheed Martin and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Margaret’s hard work has paid off as she was awarded the 2016 Tony DiBenedetto Student Employee of the Year Award through Florida State University for combined for research assistantship, teaching assistantship, and leading summer internship programs. Additionally, she was an Invited Scholar to the Doctoral Colloquium, through the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers in 2016. She has received several awards to help her succeed in graduate school. Margaret was named an International P.E.O. Scholar in 2017, and also received the Amelia Earhart Fellowship through Zonta International in 2016, the E. Wayne Kay Graduate Scholarship through the SME Educational Foundation in 2015, and was named to Honorable Mention for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program in 2015. SWE has invested in Margaret through the ASSIST Travel Grant in 2016, invited her as a 2016 Scholar to Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering, and 2015 Collegiate Leadership Institute participant. Through other organizations, Margaret has been given the Phi Kappa Phi 2017 Love of Learning Award and 2017 Graduate Student Award at Florida State University.

Margaret’s Brief explanation of her Research Experience

Research topic: integrated structural health monitoring and self-healing for composites

Motivation: Fiber-reinforced polymer composites (FRPCs) are used for a variety of civil and military applications. However, predicting the failure of FRPCs is more difficult than predicting the failure of more traditional materials like steel. Furthermore, composites can suffer extreme internal damage, but show little, if any, external indication that damage has occurred. Non-destructive inspection techniques have been developed to check for internal damage, but such methods are costly and time-consuming, meaning that inspection is often limited to small areas.

My research: I am creating a FRPC which reports when and where damage has occurred and automatically heals the damage. It combines distributed damage monitoring and self-healing technology. Damage notification is achieved with triboluminescent (TL) crystals which emit light when stressed or broken. Photodetectors translate the TL light into electrical signal. Healing is achieved by a capillary network containing liquid healing material. When damage occurs, the capillaries release healing material into the damaged area.

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?

My ideal career will allow me to combine materials engineering with industrial engineering. This could mean anything from management position at a materials engineering firm to project management/consulting to a research & development position. So… I’m still figuring it out! I am specifically looking for a position where I can use and improve materials and processing systems to improve customers’ experiences. I would like to return to higher education and teach after gaining industry experience.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy contra dancing, swing dancing, hiking, canoeing, and camping. I also bake a lot, and am pretty good at convincing people to play board games with me.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’ve legally crossed the US-Canada border multiple times without getting my passport stamped (via a back-country border-crossing permit).

FY19 Call for Feedback – What does this mean, and what do I do?

Hello SWEGrad Friends!


I hope you enjoyed the WE17 conference.  I know that I did!  I will leave conference wrap up to our GPC Emily Hoffman, who will soon transition out of her role.  Thank you again Emily, for your tireless devotion to helping with annual conference programming, and being an advocate for us!


The reason I am blogging today is to discuss something very exciting to our society.  At the WE17 senate meeting, the senate voted in favor of allowing collegiate members to have voting rights in the society!  Congratulations to you all – you have a right to vote!  This means that for this election cycle, you will be able to vote for the last Region senator which can be either a collegiate or a professional, as we have passed all bylaws amendments!  (If you would like to get involved in the senate, email me and I’ll tell you how you can run for/ be nominated for a senate seat!).  This also means that the FY19 Nominations for the Society that I previously blogged about are something you can vote for.  Candidate selection is currently in process, and you will get an email from SWE on February 1st with the slate they provide.


So – why does this matter right now?  HOW these leaders are chosen every year, requires YOUR input!


Last week during conference, and email was sent out asking for feedback to the Society Nominating Committee regarding the people that have been nominated for positions this year.

Why does this happen?  The nominating committee values the feedback/perspectives from SWE’s members on all the potential candidates so that the best possible slate can be presented.  As such, it’s our job as society members to give feedback when it is needed!  If you have ever worked with these individuals, then you can submit feedback.  I remember last year reaching out and asking – as a collegiate, does my opinion on this nomination matter?


The Answer:  IT DOES!


If anything, the collegiate voice here is probably one that matters most, and I say that with complete sincerity.  There are few collegiates that participate in the nominating process, and as such collegiate feedback is typically at a minimum.  Your input as a collegiate is a unique, and diverse perspective that the society genuinely wants, and incorporates into decision making!  Collegiates make up half of our society, and our voice is needed!


So, what will you see if you decide to leave feedback regarding any of the individuals on the list?  The first page once you click on the link will bring you to a page asking for your SWE info, followed by the info of the nominee you are choosing to provide feedback for, and then this list of questions that you might answer about the nominee:

In what capacity do you know this nominee, and for how long? Please also indicate if this nominee has served as a direct report (within or outside of SWE) to you.

Business Acumen:  Please provide one example of your experience with the candidate’s abilities to develop, execute, and prioritize strategies, goals, or objectives.

Self-Management & Development:  What characteristic(s) does this nominee exhibit that demonstrate she or he is self-motivating or a self-starter? Please describe one experience you have had with the candidate where she or he exhibited these characteristic(s).

Leadership Abilities: What makes this candidate an effective leader? Please describe one example or experience you have had with the candidate in an effective leadership role within or outside of SWE.

Communication:  Please provide one experience with the candidate’s communications skills, specifically on her or his ability to work as a team, leveraging diversity and building relationships with her or his peers, direct reports, administrative support, and managers.

Coaching, Mentoring & Sponsorship:  Please provide one experience you have had with the candidate’s ability to support and/or develop others.

Governance Structure: Given the potential modifications to the Governance Structure of the Society, please provide one experience you have had with the candidate regarding fostering change management.

What unique perspective/value will this candidate add to the SWE position she or he is being nominated for?

Would you recommend this candidate for a Society leadership position?  If yes, please describe in one sentence why this candidate should be selected above other potential candidates.  If not (and if not detailed in your response to a previous question), please describe why not.


One thing that I have been caught up on in the past is that maybe I can’t answer every question regarding that candidate.  Well guess what?  You don’t have to!  Just fill in the information that you know and are comfortable with, and submit the form.  From that point on, the nominating committee will have a record of your submission, and will be able to use that feedback in their evaluation of candidates.


How does the Nominating Committee slate candidates?  That’s a complicated process, and one that I hope to gain understanding and insight on this year.  From a basic standpoint though, the process includes a few different things:

1) Determine which nominees are eligible based on their service and leadership competencies

2) Solicit the Society for Feedback

3) Interview and record each candidate as the nominating committee chair asks some selected questions depending on where you were nominated

4) Carefully look over all of the data collected as a group, and try to choose a diverse slate of candidates for the positions that they solicited for based on the information provided, and a look going forward of the society’s strategic plan.


You may ask – why am I telling you this?  The reason that I’m expressing this to you is because at WE17 I heard over and over that women do not tend to self-nominate or step into positions of leadership unless encouraged by others.  By making this process more visible, and saying YES you are eligible and can be part of this process, I am hoping to inspire others with a diverse SWE background to also consider nominating for these positions in the future.  One of the things I am passionate about is making sure that the leadership pipeline for collegiates within SWE is preserved, and that collegiates are actively asking to be part of the dialogue, and to assist in creating change in the society.   The first step to making sure that the candidates that you want to see on the slate are selected is by giving that information to the nominating committee, and providing feedback that only YOU have, and a fresh perspective!   Please exercise the voice you’ve been given – the future of our society depends on your participation and feedback!


You will continue to get posts from me in the upcoming months regarding how to apply for different leadership positions (in the society and in GradSWE), and how to write a SWE resume to help you along in your own leadership journeys.  As always, if you have questions or want to discuss, feel free to comment below, or email me!  I look forward to hearing from all of you, and I deeply value the connections that I was able to make with many of you at WE17.