This past January a small group of the SWE Wisconsin section met through teleconference to discuss the planning for the “Spring Forward” professional development day that would take place in late March. This was the second year of organizing this event and we were excited from the momentum of the previous year’s success.
The event was planned to take place closer to Milwaukee to hopefully draw more attendees, but then COVID-19 happened, and the event unfortunately needed to be postponed. Part of this event was giving awards out to certain members and recognizing their hard work during the year. The SWE Wisconsin section did not want these members to go unrecognized for their dedication and accomplishments from the year, so we made the awards virtual. Voting for the awards remained the same through an online survey. The awards categories were:
- Wisconsin Section MVP (Rachel Tranel)
- Outstanding New Member (Sydney Schmitz)
- Significant Corporate Support (Milwaukee Tool)
- Collegiate Section Achievement (MSOE SWE)
There were also a couple President’s Choice awards that are different each year and are fun topics made up by the president; this year the President’s Choice awards were:
- Consistent Communicator (Kyela Sprecht)
- Pipeline Producer (Lindy Couwenhoven)
When the voting was complete and tallied, a document was created showing a picture of the award recipient and a brief description of why they deserved it. This document was then shared with the members of the SWE Wisconsin section through the weekly communications email and the section’s website and Facebook page. This was a necessary avenue for recognizing the awards recipients this year instead of in-person, but the method worked. With digital technology, we were able to publicly recognize the awardees, and others were able to congratulate them—even though they could not do this in-person.
The Wisconsin section has also learned a lot while social distancing during this pandemic. We have about 250-300 members and are a geographically large section. Our main hubs are Milwaukee and Madison which are about an hour drive from each other, and the Fox Cities which are two hours north of the others. We also have very active members throughout the state which could easily be up to a four-hour drive away from our in-person events and we include the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with members even farther away. This virus has forced us to think outside the box when it comes to events. We had a Zoom seminar on mindfulness in the workplace and a teleconference for a virtual book club this month. Because of events like this, we will probably see our events change in the future to be more virtual and inclusive of our remote members.
How about you? How have your events and awards changed because of this historic event? What will you keep from this experience for future events when this is all over?
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