Networking is key to a successful career. If allows you to climb the corporate ladder, find new jobs, and navigate your career. College is an excellent time to start networking, since established engineers can help you find internships and jobs while providing career guidance. SWE is a great way to expand your network. With tens of thousands of members though, where do you start?
Your peers are a valuable resource. Go to SWE socials, volunteer events, and showcases to meet other students who share your goals and interests. Upperclassmen can tell you how they got internships and how to survive classes, which is invaluable.
SWE also gives you access to local engineering professionals. Host a joint event or volunteer alongside them. Many professional SWE sections enjoy working with local collegiate sections, so contact your local section. Invite professionals to your sections events, especially professional development events like resume workshops. And don’t forget conferences! I’ve met professionals from around the country at conferences. Don’t be afraid to sit with new people at lunches, especially those sponsored by a company. They are there to meet the engineers of tomorrow!
Once you meet someone, don’t let them slip away. Connect with them on LinkedIn or- write them a thank you email. If you see them at another conference, be sure to day hi!
How do you network?
As we enter the last quarter of the school year, it comes time to elect new SWE leaders, both for sections and regions. The question now is how to keep your section going strong with the programs from this year as leaders graduate or move to different roles.
There are a few ways to help with a smooth leadership transition, and it varies by between sections and years. In deciding how to handle the change, your section needs to think about how many leaders are leaving, how many new faces will be on leadership, and whether your section is looking to expand or stay similar. Here are some ideas to help make this year’s transition a smooth one:
- Hold a CLCC event. The Collegiate Leadership Coaches offer multiple helpful sessions for transitions, such as Building Teams, Leadership, Strategic and Tactical Planning, and SWE Officer Training. Read about the modules here, and contact our Region B CLCC lead, Susie Kirkland, at email@example.com.
- Have your current leaders write a packet about what they do and some helpful hints about how to best handle the job
- Hold a planning party! Get all of the current and future leadership together and create a plan for next year. Layout which events you want to do, what kind of improvements you want to do, and then break up into pairs (new and current president, new and current treasurer, ect) to go over the ins and outs of the coming year.
These are only a few ways your section can handle transitions.
How does your section handle transitions? What has worked for you in the past?
While the deadline for region awards has passed, now if the time to start thinking about applying for national awards. SWE offers individual, section, and region awards. You can read all of the award descriptions and exact details at swe.org/awards. These will be handed out at WE15. Some award winners will be announced early (and published in SWE magazine), but others are kept secret until Celebrate SWE!
Individual awards are due March 31st. There are 18 total individual awards, and collegiates are eligible for the Collegiate Members awards, of which up to 10 are awarded nationally. Collegiates can also nominate their counselor and faculty adviser for awards.
You can read the details of the Collegiate awards in this file, but here are the basics of the individual award:
- Complete the online application off the SWE website
- A 1250 word formal statement
- A photo and short biography
- 2-3 letters of support
- A verification of academic standing
Individual members can also submit technical posters for competition.
Entire sections can also win awards, for overall excellence or for specific programs. These are due July 1st.
In what catagories can sections win?
- Outstanding Collegiate Section/Outstanding New Collegiate Section – Due May 31
- Outreach Programs/Events
- Professional Development Programs/Events
You can download the award packets separately for each catagory on the website above, when they are posted for the current financial year (FY15).
Tips and Tricks
- Start early. That gives you lots of time to work on your packet and get lots of input.
- Read ALL of the requirements. That way you won’t be scrambling for a last minute letter of recommendation.
- Since the section award instruction aren’t out yet, keep events fresh by writing summaries of them and holding on to survey results, pictures, and other notes.
- Edit! Make sure your spelling and grammar aren’t the reason that you lose out on an award.
It’s winter break, and we sit at home, post-Christmas, ready for a break from family and find ourselves without homework or other engineering to do. So, what can you do to improve yourself over break and to further yourself as an engineer?
- Practice that foreign language you learned in high school. Apps like Duolingo provide great practice and vocabulary review. In our increasingly global world, another language can give you a leg up on the competition.
- Apply for internships. Many of the companies that didn’t have applications up in the fall release them in early January.
- Update and polish your resume or CV. Check out your school’s career service’s site for tips. Make sure to tweak your resume for each company you apply to, to show that you are a good candidate for the job.
- Never interviewed before? Take advantage of after Christmas sales to expand your professional wardrobe.
- Plan events for your SWE section. With your classmate’s free time over break, this provides enough time to hammer out ideas for outreach or professional development events.
- Prepare for next semester by relaxing. Take time to destress and enjoy your time off. Rejuvenate and be ready for a fresh start for spring or winter semester.
Have a great winter break!
Membership is an important topic in every SWE section. It is our members that make up SWE, from general members to section leadership to society level leadership. So, how does a section gain new members? And how do you retain the members you’ve got?
- Start the year off strong – finding new members is easiest to do at the start of the year. Try hosting a table at your university’s student club fair. Visit underclassmen classes in the engineering department, such as introductory courses. Host an opening social to welcome back old members and to introduce new members to SWE. Try something different and exciting for your opening social. The University of Utah SWE brought puppies to play with at the opening social, UC Riverside hosted an ice cream social,
- Recognize your members – provide incentives for members to keep coming to events, such as giveaways of SWE swag (conferences and job fairs are a great place to pick up engineering themed goodies) or free food (always popular with college students).
- Use social media – a great way to keep members engaged is through social media. Start a blog or a facebook page. Both are free and easy to use, and can provide a great resource to current and prospective members alike. Use this to ADVERTISE. Nothing drives members away like not knowing what is going on. Use social media, email lists, and flyers posted around buildings to get the word out about SWE.
- Ask your members – everyone wants to know that their voice is heard. Ask your members what they want out the organization. Are they interested in outreach events, or in networking with companies? Are they looking to partner with the local professional SWE section or get additional leadership training? What kind of socials are they interested in: movie nights, resume workshops, how to classes? Surveys, online and in person, are a simple way to ask your members. Another simple way is by simply talking to your members. When you see them between classes, chat with them. After meetings, take time to mingle and get to know your members.
- Encourage participation – invite new members to come to leadership meetings. Suggest to members that they join a committee, or take on some responsibility in planning an event. Help members join SWE at the society level, offer discounts on events and t-shirts for those who join.
If you have a best practice, or something that your section uses to recruit and keep members, please leave in the comments.
The Collegiate Leadership institute is a three day set of sessions specially designed to prepare collegiate SWE members to become leaders in engineering and in their section. Each day there will be two or three sessions, which should be highly interactive. All of the speakers and facilitators selected for the Institute are noted experts in the area of leadership and career development. Curriculum with focus on communication skills, emotional intelligence, leading teams, effective negotiation, and preparing for and transitioning to the workforce.
Speaker highlights include:
- Keynote presenter will be Jessica Matthews: Co-founder and CEO of Uncharted Play, Inc. She is the recipient of numerous awards professionally for her work at Uncharted Play. She was invited to sign that America Invents Act with President Obama and serves as the Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria.
Criteria for participation:
- Active collegiate members of the Society
- Exhibit strong leadership potential
- Aspire to take on leadership and executive roles within their career
- Aspire to be a catalyst for change in the world
- Intellectually curious
Space is limited to 40 attendees, so we can only accommodate up to three women from a given university. This is a free opportunity for any collegiate conference attendee, so don’t hesitate to apply. You will also receive priority scheduling at career counseling.
Apply online here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about CLI.
Are you having trouble getting people in your section to sign up for SWEeter Futures? Or are you just confused on how to sign up and log hours? Cait Rahm from Cal Poly SLO has created a wonderful “how-to” guide.
Click the link below to reach the guide. Feel free to download this and share it with your outreach chair and members!
SWEeter Futures How To
Don’t forget, Region B is the region that piloted SWEeter Futures, so we want to log the most hours!