Engaging Graduate Students: Tips for Collegiate and Professional Sections
The SWE Graduate Community strives to increase inclusion and awareness of graduate students in local sections, both collegiate and professional, as well as at the region and society leadership levels. Many sections are not aware that graduate students can be either collegiate or professional members. For example, someone who graduated with their Bachelor’s and went straight to graduate school is probably a collegiate member, whereas someone who worked for some amount of time prior to starting graduate school is most likely a professional member. Both categories are considered part of the Graduate Community. Sections looking to engage graduate students should be aware of the diversity of graduate student backgrounds leading to a diversity of programming needs.
Graduate students can provide their collegiate sections with leadership experience, especially if they were involved with SWE as an undergraduate. They also serve as role models – both in life and in research, should undergraduates be interested in learning more about graduate school. However, collegiate sections should be aware that graduate students have very different needs than undergraduates when it comes to programming and event planning. For example, many graduate students have families and prefer, or need, to go home and pick up kids, walk the dog, cook dinner, etc. As such, graduate students may not participate in events held at or after dinner time. For more tips on how collegiate sections can engage graduate students, read our Blog post on the topic: https://swegrad.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/graduate-students-as-collegiate-members/
Graduate students may find that they better relate to professionals, so they may join the local professional section rather than the collegiate section. Professional sections should be aware, though, that graduate students may not have a lot of time or money to spend on events. Things like coffee chats or networking happy hours may draw the most graduate students, because many grad students are looking for networking and mentoring opportunities. Read our Blog post for more tips on how professionals can engage graduate students: https://swegrad.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/grad-students-as-professionals/
A SWE Membership Toolkit Item was created to provide information in order to help sections better engage graduate students. You can find the membership toolkit item on the SWE website at: http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/governance-documents/category/259-general. Additional resources are located on the Graduate Community blog: https://swegrad.wordpress.com/resources/.
If there are any questions about reaching out to graduate students, please contact the Graduate Member Coordinator, Katharine, at firstname.lastname@example.org.