By Katharine Gamble, WE Local Local Advisory Board Chair-Elect and Collegiate Competition Lead, Baking Competition Winner and Lover of all things Dog
In its second year, the WE Local Collegiate Competition is a poster competition with an added verbal component -- the Lightning Talk (think TedTalks). Graduate and Undergraduate students are eligible to submit abstracts summarizing research they’ve conducted as part of their school studies, co-ops/internships or external research experience.
Based on abstracts, finalists are selected to present their research in both poster and lightning talk format at a 2018 spring WE Local conference. Judges from academia, industry and government will score posters and lightning talks based on visual and verbal presentation, impact to society, content, and the finalist’s ability to clearly explain the research methodology and results. Winners in each category -- undergraduate and graduate -- will be announced at the WE Achieve awards ceremony on the Saturday night of the conference.
So, why should you participate?
Poster competitions offer students a unique opportunity to explain their research to large groups of varying backgrounds. By interacting with conference attendees and judges, you are able to refine your “elevator pitch” about what your research is, why it’s important and what results you’ve achieved. Additionally, you never know when someone will ask you a question you hadn’t thought about yet, which may impact how you continue the research. Furthermore, you never know when someone will be interested in your research and impressed with you that they offer you a job (true story, it’s happened to me!).
More generally, the networking opportunities abound!
- For undergraduate students, this experience is incredibly useful for graduate school applications, recruitment, and interview events as well as corporate interviews. Any interviewer will see that you had some research experience and ask you about it.
- For graduate students, this type of experience is great as you prepare for qualifications, proposals, MS/PhD defenses, etc. It’s also great practice for talking to company recruiters. When you graduate with an advanced degree, a lot of the interview is focused on your research experience. What did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn about yourself in the process?
By participating in poster competitions like WE Local’s Collegiate Competition, you practice and refine this capability to explain your research to anyone regardless of their background.
As a WE Local Collegiate Competition finalist, you’re also awarded a travel stipend, free collegiate premier registration and a special ticket to the WE Achieve awards ceremony. So, that’s not too shabby either!
In general, the Collegiate Competition is a great way to share your research with other technical people who can offer support, insight, and constructive feedback. There’s no downside, so apply now and we hope to see you at one of the WE Local Conferences this coming spring!