Virtual conference

Virtual conference empowers nearly 100 young women

The SWE Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Collegiate Section held a major virtual conference in April 2021. Lunch and evening sessions were held and included topics such as career development, professional excellence, and care personal. SWE IIT has partnered with the SWENext group at the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago. The virtual platform also supported global participation, including people from India, California and Philadelphia.

The Collegiate Section of the SWE Illinois Institute of Technology held a multi-day virtual event, “SWE IIT – Legiate Conference 2021”, April 5-9, 2021. (The term “Legiate” is taken from the word “Collegiate”). -four participants included both middle and high school women. Activities included “learning lunches” and evening professional development sessions. Ten SWE IIT members volunteered on the day of the event.

Lunchtime sessions held Monday through Friday from 12:50 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. included: a career development workshop to help participants navigate their job search and develop successful networking skills; a discussion with a mechanical engineer from Honeywell Aerospace who explained how she directed her career towards becoming an engineer; sharpen problem-solving skills with a virtual escape room; and a presentation by a panel of female engineering professors on their individual research.

A certified leadership coach explained 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 biotechnology company specializing in rare diseases). SWE FY20 College Principal Kelsey Harper explained how SWE College members can get involved professionally after graduation. To address health and wellness, a certified psychotherapist as well as a rehabilitation counselor were available for a self-care spa evening. The conference ended with the possibility for participants to have their photographs taken by professionals free of charge.

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

Takeaways from SWE IIT Virtual Conference Best Practices:

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

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

• Reaching out to speakers, building media and working with other organizations requires sufficient time to organize a successful event.

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

• Event speaker Lisa London, NCC, LCPC, provided this “Ah-ha” quote: “Here’s great common-sense advice: one of the simplest types of self-care is organizing your life. so you feel less stressed.”

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