Since first joining the graduate committee of the Society of Women Engineers in fall of 2019 I kept hearing about how transformational the weSTEM (Women Empowered in STEM) conference hosted by the graduate committee. I signed up at the first opportunity, and volunteered to help on the day of the conference.
I had never attended a conference like this before, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how many incredible women I met. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to speakers and attendees in a more casual setting at the happy hour the night before the conference started. I also appreciated how many different types of interactions I was able participate in during a one-day conference. From panels, to presentations, to small group discussions, and inspiring keynotes, I appreciated all the different perspectives on career development, balancing work and family, startups, project management, and making an impact through activism and policy.
In addition to experiencing the conference as a first-time attendee, I was excited to see some of the planning that went into the conference by volunteering to help with preparation and set up. The women who planned this conference were some of the most well-organized and thoughtful people I've ever worked with. Every last detail, from speaker thank-you gifts, to backups of backups of presentations, to attendee experience, was carefully considered. What resulted was one of the smoothest events of that scale that I have ever been a part of. It really was amazing to see, and it inspired me to join the committee for next year. Ultimately, I found that the best place for me in the GradSWE committee was as the lunch coordinator, where I can host events throughout the year and bring together a community of on campus graduate women in STEM to engage with personal and professional development speakers from different areas of expertise on campus. I hope that I can bring the level of coordination and pose that the GradSWE weSTEM planners brought, and I can't wait to be part of this conference again next year!