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Virtual Conference empowers nearly 100 young women

The Program Development Grant (PDG) Committee provides opportunities for SWE groups to receive money to host outreach and professional development events. This is the next in a series of articles to showcase the great events sections are hosting leveraging their PDG grants. Applications for FY23 grants will open in July, so stay tuned to submit your application then! In the meantime, check out some of these great events! For more information on the grant process please check out the PDG website.
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The SWE Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Collegiate Section conducted a large virtual conference during April 2021. Both mid-day lunch and evening sessions were conducted and included topics such as career development, professional excellence, and self-care. SWE IIT partnered with the SWENext group from the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago. The virtual platform also supported global participation, including individuals who joined from India, California, and Philadelphia.

The SWE Illinois Institute of Technology Collegiate Section hosted a multi-day virtual event, “SWE IIT – Legiate Conference 2021”, from April 5 – 9, 2021. (The term “Legiate” is extracted from the word “Collegiate”.) Ninety-four attendees included both college and high school women. Activities included “luncheon learns” and evening professional development sessions. Ten SWE IIT members volunteered the day of the event.

The lunchtime sessions conducted Monday through Friday from 12:50-1:50PM included: a Career Development Workshop to assist participants in navigating their job search and to develop successful networking skills; a discussion with a Honeywell Aerospace mechanical engineering who shared how she steered her career path to become an engineer; sharpening problem-solving skills with a virtual escape room; and a female engineering faculty panel presentation on their individual research.

A certified leadership coach spoke on how to discover your strengths and use them to your greatest advantage. There was an evening with industry with a facilities manager from CSL Behring (a global rare disease biotech company). The SWE FY20 Collegiate Director, Kelsey Harper, spoke on how SWE collegiate members can get involved at the professional level after graduation. To address health and wellness, a female certified psychotherapist as well as a rehabilitation counselor were available for self-care spa night. The conference ended with the opportunity for participants to have free professional head shots taken.

The informative and colorful SWE IIT Conference Guide outlined each day’s events, speakers, and activities.

Best practice take-aways from the virtual SWE IIT Conference:

• The SWE IIT conference planners believed that effective delegation and organization were essential to the success of the event, especially considering the large number of attendees.

• SWE IIT has a large member board. Each board member was assigned a conference event to moderate. That member also monitored the chat box for questions or assistance needed. This delegation enabled everyone to juggle their own school/workload while taking on conference responsibilities.

• Reaching out to conference speakers, creating media, and working with other organizations requires an adequate lead time to build a successful event.

• It was imperative to manage the finances to ensure all expenses incurred were paid on time.

• Event speaker Lisa London, NCC, LCPC provided this “Ah-ha” moment quote: “Here is a great common-sense tip: one of the easiest types of self-care is to organize your life so you feel less stressed.”

Are you interested in learning more about receiving PDG funding? Or perhaps you are ready to request funding? Learn more on the PDG website.


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