Networking at WE17


By Amanda Levenson

Hello everyone and happy October!

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Not only is this upcoming month busy with midterms, football (go Dawgs!), and figuring out Halloween costumes, but also ramping up for SWE’s biggest event of the year: WE17, the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in engineering! In my last post, I discussed general conference logistics, but now I am excited to share some resources to help you make the most out of your WE17 experience (I would highly suggest planning ahead)!

So, what does it really mean to be the largest conference and career fair for women in engineering? Well, WE17 will be featuring over 100 exhibitors (many of which are Fortune 500 companies, government institutions, and universities), packing in seminars and workshops from roughly 8am-10pm, Wednesday through Saturday, and hosting over 10,000 collegiate and professional attendees from all over the world. Needless to say, there will be a A LOT going on!

Fortunately, there is an online conference planner to help you pick events and organize your schedule each day. As shown below, you will have the ability to chronologically view all conference activities, add them to your calendar, and keep track of specific event details. Anyone that knows me can attest to how much I love my calendar and to-do lists, so believe me when I say this conference organizer is worth using!

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With so many people and activities going on, there will be an abundance of opportunities to network at WE17. That’s right, networking! Regardless of whether you are a new college student, recent graduate that just entered the workforce, or professional with years of experience, you’ve probably been told at least once that networking is important for your career. But how so?

Networking can help:

  • Open up opportunities. By talking with new people, you might learn about jobs or companies that you didn’t even know existed, and your personal connections can help you get your foot in the door when making a career transition.
  • Increase your knowledge/awareness of projects and advancements in your discipline and/or industry. Maybe work at other companies/institutions will inspire a new idea in your work.
  • Provide you with new perspectives and approaches to excel in your job. What skills do other engineers have that you could work on building, too? What have other engineers done to stand out in their career?

networking

So now, what does networking look like? It can take several forms. For example:

  • Attending company info. sessions and career fairs are two primary ways to learn about internship/job opportunities in a more formal setting, and pitch your experiences to a company representative(s).
  • If the two aforementioned methods of networking sound overwhelming and stressful, you can also attend talks and workshops of your interest, and follow-up with the speakers or other attendees afterward. (If someone’s story or advice really stuck out to you, be sure to tell them, and maybe invite them for coffee)!
  • For everyday networking, LinkedIn has become a great platform for connecting/staying in touch with people, searching job opportunities, and publicly advertising your profile.

However, networking isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea, and understandably so. If you’re not sure exactly where to start or how to become a better networker, I would encourage you to check out these SWE resources:

  1. SWE Conference Networking for Newbies
  2. Hot Trends in Networking Know-How for 2017

Finally, if you are curious about how to continue engaging in the women in engineering community beyond WE17, listen to last year’s WE16 keynote talk and other SWE podcasts about various women in STEM topics. These podcasts are a quick break from studying and a great way to stay up-to-date on efforts to support women in engineering.

As always, please email me at rcce-j@swe.org if you have any questions/concerns, or would simply like to meet up at WE17! Safe travels!

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