General

Recap of the Year: 2016 – 2017

Thank you GradSWE members for all your support over the past year! We have had a tremendously successful year and are glad you were apart of it. Over the past year GradSWE has hosted over 44 events and have had over 300 members attend at least one of these events! A big shout out to our sponsors — the Office of Graduate Education, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Office — without your support all of this wouldn’t have been possible!

Welcome Dinner & End of the Year Party

We started off the year strong with our annual Welcome Dinner. This event has been growing every year, and this year we had a record of over 100 attendees! With primarily first year students in attendance, the Co-Directors gave an overview of GradSWE while everyone enjoyed a meal from Noodles and Company. The year ended with a painting party with painting instruction provided by Paint & Pour. Forty GradSWE members tried their hands at painting a Michigan themed masterpiece. And during breaks we helped ourselves to a delicious spread of fruit, charcuterie, cheese, and cookies. It was a great end to the academic year.

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Professional Development

Gender equality in the workplace was a big focus of professional development this year. Therefore, in addition to our traditional finance, computer/writing skills, and public speaking workshops, we collaborated with the Center for Entrepreneurship on a “Real Talk: Gender Equality in the Workplace” series. Our goal was to engage graduate students in conversations on real and difficult issues that many of us are currently facing or may face in future careers, and arm students with strategies to promote a more supportive work environment. Additionally, we partnered with the Office of Conflict Resolution to develop a monthly support group for graduate students as a safe space to discuss conflict, and learn effective strategies for resolving conflict.

Our Public Speaking Series received great response from the student community. The first talk ‘The secrets to giving a good scientific talk’ was given in the department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering by Dr. Aaron Ridley and Dr. Mike Liemohn. This talk focused on the ways one can improve a scientific talk visually as well as the orally. The second talk ‘How to give the Talk of a Lifetime’ by Dr. Anne Curzan, Associate Dean for Humanities, a TED speaker and influencer also received tremendous response. At the end of the year, we also collaborated with GRIN, WISE, MiLEAD in a Dining Etiquette Workshop, ‘The Art of Business Dining’ by Mr. Keith Soster, Director of Student Engagement for Michigan Dining.

Networking

This year the Networking co-officers organized a series of three lunches for female faculty members to mentor graduate students at small table discussions. The lunches were held in the summer, fall, and winter, and 50-80 students and professors attended each lunch. Tables were assigned topics relevant to graduate students such as publishing, mentoring, time management, finding postdocs etc. The professors at these tables mentored students about their specific table topic. Attendees said that they enjoyed interacting with women from fields other than their own, and that they liked meeting students and faculty in a friendly environment. This new style of luncheon was a success and we look forward to continue engaging with faculty members next year.

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Activities

pic03Last summer, we enjoyed kayaking down the Huron River, as well as a 3rd of July picnic at Fuller Park. In the fall, we found our way through a corn maze, and picked apples at Wasem’s Orchard. Back on campus, we also celebrated fall with two social hours with donuts and apple cider. To end the fall semester, we had a holiday party, where we made wreaths, hot cocoa mix, and gingerbread houses. During the winter, we enjoyed an afternoon of skating at Buhr park. We ended the semester with a painting party, and during finals week we destressed during a yoga + yogurt event with undergrad SWE.

 

Graduate Student Career Fair Reception

In the fall semester, GradSWE held a reception for company representatives and masters and PhD students to informally network the night prior to the SWE/TBP Career Fair. There were 17 companies represented and over 300 students in attendance. The reception provided a more relaxed atmosphere for students and corporate representatives to interact and network without resumes prior to the start of the career fair.

Region H Conference

On March 10-12, our SWE section hosted the Region H Conference. GradSWE members both attended the conference and planned some of the sessions. Grad student specific sessions included “Grad School Funding Workshop,” “ Finding a Research Position as a Student,”  and “Life as an Academic: the 5 W’s”. We were also involved in “Grad School Admissions Workshop,” “Which is Right for Me? Grad School or Industry?” and “Grad Student Panel”. GradSWE also partially sponsored 12 graduate students to attend the conference. Great job everyone!

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Photo Credit: Amy Blatt / Theresa Chick

Liberia SWE

In August 2016, four GradSWE students and five undergraduate SWE members traveled to Liberia and facilitated a 2 week residential leadership camp for undergraduate Liberian female students studying engineering from 3 Liberian universities. The camp focused on professional, academic, and student organization development. The style of the camp was primarily workshops, lectures, and hands-on engineering activities, developed and led by GradSWE members. The camp ended with a successful networking dinner that drew in over 70 attendees – both LSWE students and local engineers and educators. GradSWE members served as facilitators and leaders of the camp and developed the entire curriculum of the camp. UM SWE offered guidance and support in establishing LSWE as an official organization at the Liberian universities and are continuing working towards registering LSWE as an official SWE affiliate. Six LSWE students visited Ann Arbor in the fall hosted by UM SWE members and attended the society level SWE conference hosted in Philadelphia in October, 2016.

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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.

General, Uncategorized

Exciting partnership with UM Center for Entrepreneurship

Contributors: Lauren Bilbo, Liz Dreyer, Maggie Reuter, Meghan Richey

SWE and GradSWE at U of M have started an exciting partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurship (UMCFE). Throughout the semester, we will be holding six workshops covering a wide range of topics – from learning about entrepreneurship to building our own personal brand to becoming an effective project manager. All the workshops are led by talented women from around the university

This past Thursday (March 24th), we held our third workshop, titled “Strategies to Overcome Gender Stereotypes.” This was a great workshop! We first talked about how to recognize gender stereotypes and microaggressions, both in the workplace and in our everyday lives. The presenter, Elizabeth Rohr from UMCFE, explored different types of stereotypes and microaggressions that can make women feel isolated, uncomfortable, and unwelcome in male dominated fields. The entire workshop was highly interactive, and we were able to share personal experiences and brainstorm solutions to problems we face, such as sizeism, sexist language, and assumptions of inferiority, among other topics.

I believe these microaggressions are a rampant problem even in climates that are striving to promote diversity and inclusion. The danger of these microaggressions is the hostile climate it creates for women, and the simple fact is that the perpetrators of the climate are mostly unaware of how they are hurting the women around them. Every woman at this workshop had a story about her current struggle with these issues, and the few men present were mostly surprised by the issues raised. This is why these workshops are vital for women in STEM. We need to find both a sense of community and learn how to effectively communicate to our peers on the real issues we face. 

I have personally faced microaggressions with a male professor I briefly worked for. I was forced to communicate through another male professor because my emails were constantly ignored. In meetings I felt undervalued, attacked, and inferior. It was difficult to share these experience when friends would brush off the sexist undertones I felt in these interactions. Going to the UMCFE workshop helped me feel that I am not alone in these struggles, that I am not crazy, that I have a support network of women and men who understand. 

Since engineering is a traditionally male-dominated field, many women engineers have faced these types of stereotypes and microagressions. It’s sometimes hard to know what to say or how to deal with it, so I’ve really enjoyed learning about how to empower myself and those around me. UMCFE has done a great job of providing useful information on how we, as female engineers, can realize that we can successfully navigate the engineering field.

GradSWE and SWE are very excited about this partnership, and we’re looking forward to the next workshop. Join us on Thursday, March 31st in the GM Room (Lurie building, 4th floor) for “Building your personal brand”.