This was my first time attending the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) National Conference (WE14), and I was amazed by how many women are in the engineering field. This year the National Conference for SWE and the International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES) were held at the same time in Los Angeles, California.
At the conference I was able to network and meet with SWE members from different chapters and countries at the First Timers/ International Attendee Reception; which was held on Wednesday October 22nd. The IScream Social was held Wednesday night at the JW Marriot in the Diamond Ballroom afterwards. The IScream Social is an event where you are able to meet other SWE sections from around the country. At the social there was a costume competition, and the categories that competitors could place in were engineer, Hollywood inspired, traditional, and best overall. This year the President ICWES spoke at the IScream social.
The career fair opening reception was held on Thursday night from 6-8pm; the scale of how many companies there were was overwhelming to me. There was more than 275 exhibitors, ranging from companies looking for prospective new hires for full time positions or internships, to universities looking for anyone interested in continuing their education. I visited a few companies that night before going to the all-day Career fair on Friday. There I received an interview from John Deere and a week later they extended an offer for me to go to their headquarters in Illinois for another interview for an internship position for the summer of 2015.
Hospitality Suites were held after the career fair’s opening reception from 8-10pm. Hospitality suites are where you get to know the recruiters from certain companies in an informal setting and they also get to know more about you. This is another way to network with people and it is held on only one night of the conference. Most of the companies held raffles and gave away items if you came to visit them during the two hours hospitality suites was held. I visited BP, Toyota, Barclays, and Texas Instruments.
The workshops that I attended during the three days of the conference were:
Success in Corporate America: The Written and Unwritten Rules of the Game was held by ExxonMobil.
The speakers for this workshop have worked for ExxonMobil for many years and shared what they have done in their career to move up. They also gave tips on how to advance your own career once entering the workforce. The written rules were going over and above when it comes to performance and to take those step out opportunities when they come your way. The unwritten rules were more geared towards knowing who has influence in the corporation that you chose to work for and who are the advisors for your boss.
The 3 rules of STEM talent for the 21st century was presented by Yvette Montero Salvatico.
Salvatico talked about how after 2008 we became a post normal society and scientists described it as a VUCA terrain. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguity. She also spoke of the three rules of STEM talent. The first talent is siloed disciplines must now become Trans disciplines, meaning we now have to work with other groups within the engineering field in order to discover new opportunities. The second talent is the ability to use innovation to become “transformative invention”, we must look beyond just creating a slightly better form of outdated ideas and step outside of the box. The third talent was patterns, we as people are better at making sense of patterns than computers are.
Leading your career was a panel discussion held by Boston Scientific.
The panel discussed choices that they made individually or had to make in their life regarding where they were at in their career. Some of the panelists decided to become a stay at home mom for a couple of years before returning to industry and they explained why they made that choice. Others spoke of their expat assignments overseas and the conversation that they had with their spouses and each of the panelists gave one piece of advice to the audience.
I also went to a session that was held by ICWES called Innovative Techniques for Verifying Programmable Logic Devices presented by Carol Marsh. Marsh spoke of what Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs) are and the history of PLDs. She also spoke of how the company she works for, Selex ES is moving toward meeting the DO-254 guidelines for the aircrafts that they do electronic hardware designs for.
The closing ceremony “Celebrate SWE” was held on the last day of the conference on Saturday October 25th. It was a time to recognize those that were graduating and taking the next steps towards their careers after school, those that have received an award, either individually or as a team for their sections and involvement in SWE and in the community. Celebrate SWE was a dinner and a live performance by Cher and I received an award for being the 2014 Cisco’s Future Scholarship recipient.
Going to this conference gave me the opportunity to meet new people and hear stories from women in industry about how passionate they are about what they do. I also learned a lot about different career paths that are available in industry and how to manage my career when the time comes. I left this conference feeling empowered to make a difference and knowing that I can. I hope that the other attendees of the WE14 conference feel the same way too.
The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is a nonprofit, worldwide professional organization, which strives to support and encourage women to excel in the engineering field. SWE provides opportunities for Women to excel as engineers and achieve success in their careers. More information on SWE can be found on their website.
From Left to right Christal Kuriakose, Mishal Shahab, Jennifer Rochette
E- Board of SWE NJIT section from left to right Jennifer Rochette, Mishal Shahab, Christal Kuriakose, Kimberly Lam, Vini Mehta, Aditi Surma
Celebrate SWE Cher performing
From left to right Vini Metha, Aditi Surma, Jennifer Rochette, Kimberly Lam, Raquel Perez-Castillejos, Mishal Shahab, Christal Kuriakose, , Julia Dale