Region 5 takes on Seattle and gets ready for Lubbock!

December 11, 2016 Region 5 Leadership

Region 5 takes on Seattle and gets ready for Lubbock!

By Luisa Florez

The first time I attended SHPE National Conference was in 2016. Far from home, I disembarked the plane in Baltimore and was greeted with the weather too cold for a Texan. I looked forward to the professional development, leadership training, and networking that the conference is known for. As excited I was, I couldn’t stop pondering about how my experience at the conference was going to be like. How would it feel to be in one space with thousands of engineers who believe in SHPE’s mission? Let me tell you, it felt inspiring. How would it feel to be in workshops where I learned about new technology or leadership skills? It felt empowering. How would I feel about my SHPE Familia? Much closer to it.

Everyone’s experience at SHPE conference is unique. For such reason, we’re bringing you the stories of two Lobos at their first National Conference in the hopes you’ll attend one in the future. Though attending National Conference can present a financial consideration, there are many opportunities to fundraise by yourself, through your chapter or through companies. That’s why, if you would like to attend the 2017 National Conference in Kansas City, MO, why not start planning and preparing now! Don’t want to wait a whole year to attend a conference? No worries, Region 5’s RLDC is just around the corner taking place March 30 – April 1st in Lubbock, Texas. Find out here from other Lobos why you should attend RLDC 2017. Check it out here >> video 

ALEX LOREDO. Chemical Engineering. University of Houston SHPE Chapter

Q: Was this your first National Conference? What were your expectations?
A: Yes. I originally thought it was going to be super massive and the way everyone around me spoke about it, very hectic and going by quickly. My experience at National Conference was unique and was certainly not what I was expecting.

Q: What was the most valuable experience for you at National Conference?
A: I was actually selected to be a part of the Nissan Design Challenge at the conference, which is fantastic, but I felt like I didn’t get the true conference experience. It wasn’t until the third day when I attended the career fair that I realized there were so many attendees of the conference because I had been in a room for 3 days with the same 40 people! Regardless, I did get to experience this amazing engineering challenge, where a presentation had to be made each night by each team of 3 to 5 judges, some technical engineers with Nissan and some not. We would receive feedback every night after our presentation and had to use that feedback in our next presentation the next day. This entire experience was to emulate a real engineering environment with individuals you have known only a few hours, having to come together and delivering a pitch on a vehicle design to convince the judges your product needed to be implemented on all vehicles. Time was very short and often required long nights of researching our topic of interest. I ended up achieving third place with my colleagues for this competition, so the effort put into this was definitely worth it. This experience alone was the most valuable because what we did really encourage cooperation with new people you’ve never met before, the importance of networking with everyone around you, and emulating a real-life engineering experience of giving a presentation to a management group to receive critical feedback. I wish I had gone to a few workshops being held at the conference, but my team and I really wanted to outperform other contenders in the presentations. This was a small sacrifice, but I certainly want to come again next year to truly see what else national conference has to offer.

Q: Any encouraging words for SHPE members that may be hesitant about attending a National Conference?
A: Before this conference, I had never been at the airport, on a plane, or out of the state! I was more afraid of the time TSA would take than the ride itself! If you are hesitant on the merit of going to a conference, you shouldn’t be. If you have financial difficulty, show your interest, be an active member, and see if you can get sponsored by your chapter. There are plenty of opportunities the conference provides you, whether it is to get an interview, network with companies or chapters, or be a part of a competition. I left the conference with quite a few new contacts and new friends as well.

Q: This year’s RLDC will be taking place in Lubbock, Texas. Why would you encourage Region 5 members to attend?
A: I was actually the co-host/co-chair for Region 5’s RLDC last year and I would encourage everyone to attend this conference at least once. Similar to a national conference, you are going to meet several new faces, speak with corporate representatives, and become more knowledgeable in how to be an effective leader. If you don’t have the expenses for National Conference, this is definitely the next best thing to do!

ASCENCIÓN RAMÍREZ. Chemistry. The university of Texas at Austin SHPE chapter

Q: Was this your first National Conference? What were your expectations?
A: Yes. I thought it would be very professional focused, mainly about recruiters and jobs. I focused on professional development with a lot of workshops on interviewing and such, but there were also other tracks like the Latina track and other types of workshops like academic or chapter development ones. I went to one called LGBTQ+ in the Workplace. There are a lot of opportunities to experience everything that SHPE offers. It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had in college.

Q: What was the most valuable experience for you at National Conference?
A: I learned to not sell yourself short, to always have confidence in your abilities and to advocate for yourself constantly. I learned this through two different events at the conference. The first one was through a workshop called “¿Que Pasa, No Tienes Abuelita?.” At this workshop, the speakers talked about how you should brag about yourself in an interview. You want to make sure the interviewers learn positive qualities about you, like that you’re determined or hardworking, through the experience that you’re sharing with them. At the workshop, people would go up and share an experience and then the presenters would ask the audience what they learned about this person. People would say, “oh, they’re confident” and other positive adjectives. I learned a lot from that, from hearing people share.

The second experience was a resume review with a Lockheed Martin recruiter who gave me feedback. As we talked, he asked how I felt about the career fair. After telling him I felt that there was a lot of competition, he tried to motivate me and told me to not think like that. He advised me that you should always have confidence because you’re part of the top competition as much as everyone else.

Q: Any encouraging words for SHPE members that may be hesitant about attending a National Conference?
A: It’s worth it. In terms of the professional development, there are so many companies and recruiters at the conference. The workshops are put on by the recruiters so you get more time to network with them and have a personal connection with them; if you’re answering questions and participating in the workshop, you’ll stand out to them. National Conference also has hospitality suites. The one I went to was for a pharmaceutical company and they had a panel of Latinas. It was great to hear about the work they did.
If you’re worried about financial matters, I would ask university departments to see if there’s a way to get sponsored or I would consider fundraising.
If you’re going by yourself, it’s okay. There are a lot of people there that you will meet.

Q: You study chemistry. Would you advise other non-engineering students to attend?
A: Yes. I actually met a lot of biology students. During the opening ceremony, everything that was said was focused on STEM majors. There were some events and some recruiters that wanted engineering students, but I think overall National Conference is for all majors. The companies at the career fair were varied, for example, there were banks, and even some of the recruiters hadn’t done engineering in undergrad.

Q: How has this experience impacted your experience with SHPE?
A: I feel closer with SHPE because I see how many opportunities it has. Seeing this makes me want to be more involved so I can take advantage of all the opportunities. After graduation, I want to help mentor and be in the position to help someone and give back to my community, just like the recruiters at the conference. After this experience, I have more of a connection to my chapter and want to help my chapter in furthering SHPE’s mission.