The women of SWE at UCSB were super excited to attend this year’s annual SWE conference all the way in Baltimore, MD. The month of September was spent reaching out to local companies, as well as school funding sources to find ways to sponsor our travel. We were very happy when we received enough funding to send 4 girls to the conference! All it took was a little bit of reaching out. For 3 of us, this was our first SWE conference ever!
We eventually arrived in Baltimore after what seemed like an endless day of sitting in planes, trains and automobiles to find that to our surprise, Baltimore is FREEZING COLD. Unfortunately, none of us packed our heavy coats and we knew it was the beginning of a very chilly four days.
Day 1 of the conference was spent sleeping in, as we were all very exhausted and exploring the convention center (it was too cold to venture outside). We also attended the Region B meeting, which was a great way to feel more connected to other women in our region. The first night contained the opening of what seemed like the world’s largest career fair, followed by awesome hospitality suites put on by the companies. Day 2 was filled with booth after booth at the career fair, and even a couple of on the spot interviews with potential employers. It was exciting, fun and scary at the same time. On the last day, we were brave enough to actually leave the convention center and explore Baltimore for a few hours. We did a walking tour of Fells Point, went to a farmers market and ate a great meal at a local diner. We spent the last night at the Celebrate SWE dance, which was super fun and a great way to end the trip!
The trip had a lot of great moments, with a couple of unexpected hurdles along the way, but in the end served as an amazing bonding experience for the four of us. We gained a lot from our experience…here are some helpful tips we learned along the way:
1)If you want to attend a conference, but can’t afford to go, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for sponsorship. People usually want to help you.
2) I can’t emphasize this one enough: CHECK THE WEATHER and be sure you are packing the right clothes for the city you are traveling to.
3) Don’t be afraid to go alone- we met the awesome President from UC Irvine who came all by herself and was having a blast.
4)Pack a professional but comfortable outfit for the career fair.
5)If the conference is happening at the same time as classes (they usually are), try to finish all your homework before attending. There really wasn’t much free time to study in the hotel room!
6) Make sure to set some time aside to explore the city you are traveling to. The convention center doesn’t really count as seeing the city.
7) Try to attend as many seminars and discussion panels as possible, most of them are very helpful and a great way to network.
8) Take advantage of the free food (there is lots of it).
9) Introduce yourself to as many people as possible. You never know what a connection you made at the conference could lead you to.
10) Have a positive attitude! Things will go wrong when you are traveling, but with a positive attitude, you won’t even remember the stressful situations.
Hope all of you who attended had a great time. Can’t wait to see everyone at the Regional Conference!