Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference- Emily Ongstad

Student: Emily Ongstad

Role: Doctoral Student

Program: Bioengineering

Event: Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference (2015)

Attending the Society of Women Engineers annual conference was an excellent professional development opportunity for me. I was able to network with a number of key leaders in the organization to discuss future leadership opportunities. I listened to a number of presentations from members of the Board of Directors on how the organization has put together a task force to reorganize their governance structure to make themselves more effective. It was an excellent opportunity to experience discussion on strategic planning within a huge multi-national organization. Additionally, I attended several sessions on Career and Life Transitions and Career Enhancement, in which I learned about skills for negotiating your salary and managing difficult conversations. Interestingly, it seems that many members of the working world still struggle with communication, and in order to handle difficult conversations, you may have to learn to reach beyond your abilities to ensure a beneficial outcome for everyone involved. I also attended a networking session, in which the session leader taught us how to structure conversations so that you go into every networking event in a way that you can give someone something they need, but also that you can get something you need out of the connection you are forming. If this connection isn’t mutually beneficial, you shouldn’t feel guilty walking away. Overall, this conference gave me exposure to top-notch professional development opportunities in sessions taught by leaders in their fields.