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GradSWE at UM: A Year in Review

Contributor: Meghan Richey

The year is coming to a close here at U of M! We wanted to take the time to look back at some of the great moments we’ve had in GradSWE over the school year, starting with last summer.

 

  1. Kayaking down the Huron River: What’s the best activity on a hot summer day in Ann Arbor? Grab your swimsuits and head down to Argo Park for a two-hour kayaking excursion down the river! A group of GradSWE members took advantage of a beautiful day in July for some great group bonding, followed by a picnic lunch.
  2. Blueberry Picking: Summer in Michigan is a great time for blueberry picking! Late August saw many of our members heading out to a farm to pick (and eat!) some of the best berries Michigan has to offer.
  3. National SWE Conference in Nashville, TN: Nine of our members attended WE15, where they were able to connect with other GradSWE chapters, learn about the role of women engineers in academia and the workplace, and attend a great career fair! They also took the time to check out the local sites in Nashville and on the road trip down, including Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
  4. Holiday Party: Our annual holiday party was very well-attended! We built gingerbread houses, listened to classic holiday tunes, and said goodbye to our graduating members.
  5. Cross-Country Skiing: In January, skiers of all skill levels hit the “slopes” (aka the Huron Hills Golf Course) to learn to cross-country ski! After a quick lesson, we set off on the trails through the golf courses, which included some small hills and beautiful scenery. We finished up the day with a picnic lunch in the ski lodge.
  6. Entrepreneurship Series: This semester, GradSWE was lucky to partner with the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship to hold workshops covering a wide range of topics- everything from building your own brand to fighting gender stereotypes in the workplace. The attendees were extremely impressed with the speakers and came away with valuable tips and tools to becoming more successful in her chosen field.
  7. Painting Party: For our February general body meeting, we had a do-it-yourself painting class! Members followed step-by-step instructions to create a garden scene. Every painting was unique, but all were beautiful!
  8. Female Faculty Mixers: These events were held many times throughout the year. Female faculty members joined GradSWE members for lunch to talk about careers in academia and their experiences in industry. These lunches were valuable for all attendees, and we loved hearing the personal stories of female professors!

GradSWE at U of M has had a great past year, and we’re looking forward to an even better summer! If you’re in the area, check out events we’ll be holding to come make new friends, reconnect with old friends, and have a great time with a great group of people! Thanks to everyone that helped make this year a wonderful experience, and have a great summer!

General

Applying Entrepreneurship Skills in Academia and Industry

Contributor: Maggie Reuter

When I first heard about the Center for Entrepreneurship series on Empowering Women Through Entrepreneurship, I assumed it didn’t really fit into my career path. I’m interested in becoming a professor, not heading to Silicon Valley to create a new app. But I decided to go some of the seminars when a mentor told me becoming a professor is like having your own mini startup. So I went and have found the seminars invaluable and inspiring. The speakers have helped me think about all kinds of skills we don’t often have a chance to get formal training in like navigating work relationships, building confidence in my abilities, and even organizing a timeline for my dissertation.

Over the past two weeks there have been two seminars: Building Your Personal Brand and Becoming an Effective Project Manager; led by Rachele Downs, Vice President Entrepreneurial Strategies at Inforum & Inforum Center for Leadership, and Susan Koenig, App Relations Manager at AdAdapted.

Rachele’s main points can be summed up with one of the first quotes of the seminar “own your energy and be memorable.” The key ideas about building your personal brand, according to Rachele, are confidence and preparation. Confidence in who you are, what you want to say, and establishing your network. Preparation in meetings, elevator pitches, the persona you want to present, and maintaining your social media presence. One idea I took away from Rachele’s talk was always have prepared elevator pitches that you can employ at any time 30 sec, 3 min, 10 min, or 30 min. You never know where you can find a connection or, in my case, a new research collaborator.

Susan’s approach to the seminar was more hands on, but just as helpful for professional development. We brainstormed in small groups about how to manage the design of a rocket car, while dealing with a theoretical team member who didn’t respect women. Susan then had suggestions about four different project management methods: Waterfall, Critical Path, Kanban, and Scrum. Her advice was inspire a sense of ownership in your team members, empower the people working for you while also teaching them, and make the scope and details of a project transparent so people are connected to the project as a whole. Two resources that I’ve started using since the workshop are Trello and The Girls Guide to Project Management.
I’m looking forward to the next seminar, Promoting and Selling Your Ideas to Non Technical People, and finding new and valuable entrepreneurial skills. I’ve always thought of these concepts being applied in industry, but I plan to use these skills to further my career in academia, too. In the future, I won’t be so quick to dismiss the workshops that teach us how to manage people, money, and our career.