Meet the SWEFLs – Laura Alley

lauraI’m a junior in Civil Engineering at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I got involved with SWE in the fall of 2013 as the Civil Engineering Department Representative, and this year I am our section’s Vice President of Professional Development. I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and have two Bachelor of Art degrees in Gender Studies and Anthropology. As a non-traditional student, SWE has been a great organization to help me figure out where I fit in with engineering and how to stay motivated and inspired with my new goals. So far this year I’ve had a great time planning Professional Development events like Evening with Industry and I’m looking forward to hosting many more! Outside of my classes and SWE, I enjoy hiking in the mountains, cooking, and taking ballet classes.

I am so honored to have been chosen as one of the two SWE Future Leaders (SWEFLs) for Region B this year! I do see myself as an up-and-coming leader both inside and outside of SWE, and the Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI) at the WE14 Conference was a great opportunity for me to improve my leadership skills. During these special conference sessions, I was able to connect with a mentor from one of our professional sections, work on my personal goals with other future leaders, and attend a number of exciting workshops and speeches on a variety of topics.

One of my favorite speakers during the CLI was Jo Miller, an expert in leadership coaching. She helped each of us begin to create our own unique “leadership brand,” a phrase that describes what our main strengths are, and what we are known for as a leader. Ms. Miller also analyzed the difference between mentorship and sponsorship, and the importance of having at least one sponsor in addition to mentors when you begin a career in engineering. Other sessions that inspired me included Jessica Matthews’ unique take on socially-conscious entrepreneurship, and Selena Rezvani’s step-by-step plan for “Negotiating with Confidence.” Between the CLI sessions, the Career Fair, and networking with women from all around the world, the SWE Annual Conference was an overall incredible experience for me.


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