Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Speed Mentoring: Women Helping Women!

Hi everyone!

One of my favourite things about McMaster University is the never ending opportunities to network! I generally receive an email about 2-5 different opportunities per week from various faculty organizations. I was so excited when I was invited to a Speed Mentoring Event – Women in Engineering”! 

This event had 10 different 15 minute workshops that would be run by McMaster Alumnae women in various leadership positions. We were allowed to select 4 out of the 10 choices and I ended up selecting 'Work-Life Balance', 'Taking Time off Work', 'Managing a Team' and 'Negotiating Salaries'.

The delicious free food was an added bonus 
to an incredibly valuable evening.
Work-Life Balance’ was a workshop presented by Christine Ermarkaryan, a woman with an undergrad in Chemical Engineering and Management, and her masters in Business. Christine reflected on her own experiences and the challenges she faced with work-life balance. I was challenged to prioritize different parts of my life to make sure that I balance work and play, even if sometimes work feels like play!

Next, I attended ‘Taking Time off Work’ by Anjali Tandon, a woman with a degree in Chemical Engineering and a minor in French. Anjali told us about her 4 year undergrad followed by her travels through Europe. As a hiring manager, she provided us with some very valuable and unique insight on how we can approach our own time off. Her recommendation was a maximum of a year to a year and a half off to give yourself that much needed break, while not falling behind with rapidly changing technology.

Following that, I attended ‘Managing a Team’ presented by Pat Greene, a woman with a degree in Computer Engineering. As a woman who manages engineers, Pat was able to walk us through different scenarios and conflicts that tend to happen in team environments. One of the main resonating messages was the fact that it is a manager’s job to motivate the team, and the best way to do so is with effective communication.

Lastly, I attended ‘Negotiating Salaries’ by Faye Wales, a woman with a degree in Sociology. Faye had a very interesting presentation about the somewhat taboo subject matter of renegotiating working conditions. She provided suggestions such as: avoid asking about salaries in the very first interview, wait until the offer is given before debating the topic, and once the job is secured, request a salary review after 6 months have gone by.

Engaged students participating in the Speed Mentoring sessions.
The night itself was extremely valuable and fun however the networking opportunities could not be ignored. I ended up asking Anjali for her email in order to message her later. I emailed her about the thoughts I have for my own path and asked her for advice. Instead of emailing me back, she called me and we had a long conversation about my future. As an engineering hiring manager, she provided me with an unmatched perspective. It is opportunities like this that only will come with a little bit of added effort.

The moral of this post is something along the lines of ‘you miss 100% of the shots you never take’. In university, it is essential for you to take your future into your own hands. If you close yourself off to opportunities in front of your eyes, you could miss something big. Set yourself up for success, and read your emails! ~Vanessa

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Let's Have a (Fire)ball!

Bonjour mes amis,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; it’s time for engineering students to class it up, put on their dancing shoes, and head to the Fireball! 

Fireball is the annual engineering formal and awards ceremony that happened this past Saturday (February 8th). I've gone to Fireball the past few years and it's crazy to think that this was my last one (I'm graduating in a few months)! During dinner, several awards were announced. These ranged from silly (Over Enthusiastic Event Attender), to serious (Teaching Assistant Awards, Professor Awards, and the Image of an Engineer Award). 

Fireball is also an exciting time because they announce the new McMaster Engineering Society (MES) President! The MES represents engineering students at the university, and they organize social, professional development and academic events for engineering students. The McMaster Engineering Society president for the 2014-2015 year is Ben Kinsella! I actually interviewed Ben in the Mac Eng: Reel Talk series over the summer about the Ask an Undergraduate Engineer Program for students considering McMaster Engineering. I'm so excited that Ben is the incoming MES president; he’s going to rock the show!

After the awards were presented, we spent the rest taking photos, catching up with friends (including fellow bloggers Genna, Danielle and Vanessa) and tearing up the dance floor! It's nice to be able to blow off some steam while showing off our sweet dance moves. Engineers may work hard, but we also play hard. What a wonderful night with such classy people!

That’s all for now folks!
Fellow blogger Danielle and I dressed up all spiffy for Fireball. Engineering and Society program, represent!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Wonderland ~ Welcome to 2014

Welcome Back & Happy New Year!
Me and “Otis” the Eng Outreach Bear catching
 some winter rays! He’s a great hugger and always
 knows just how to cheer the team up when
we’re hit with any winter blues.
Now that 2014 is upon us, it is time to get back to the books. Term 2 started today and McMaster University is covered in a thick (cold!) blanket of crisp, white snow. I love the way campus looks in the winter: the bright snow on the trees, all the colours of coats, hats, scarves and mittens and the busy crowds of students rushing to their classes. The campus is alive with activity!

January marks the beginning of my second term of my fourth year in Materials Engineering & Society at Mac and I’m really looking forward to my classes. (I’m such a nerd!) But I really enjoy learning and I’m excited that classes are starting up again.

So as I begin the New Year, I’m continuing my work with Engineering Outreach. Christen, Sean, Brandon and I are members of a work-study team: we are able to study full-time while continuing to develop our career skills and gain valuable experience working for the University. Engineering Outreach is here for you if you’re a prospective student interested in finding out more about our programs so that you can choose a University that’s right for you!

Another great part about this time of year is seeing all my friends. It was great to catch up with everyone and hear all the fun adventures my friends had over the holidays. I can feel it; this term is going to be so great!

Until next time, ~ Danielle

Monday, November 25, 2013

Women in Computing & Software: 4th annual ONCWIC conference!

Left to right: Ashton, Natalie, Yassi,
and I before our welcome dinner 
Earlier this month, my friends and I packed our bags and headed up to Waterloo, Ontario for the 4th annual Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing conference. This wasn't my first time- we went as a group last year, and loved it so much we came back! It's an inexpensive conference, and has multiple meals, lectures, and a job fair, so we donned our heels and headed out.

I could easily type glowing reviews of so many of the keynote speakers, and the wit and charisma they brought to their presentations. However, one of my favourites was Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College. A lot of her discussion simply focused on the mindset many females have in academia, and then continue to have while they work in industry.

While they may not reign true for everyone out there, the concepts presented seem to loudly resonate with the 220 women in the room.

Attendees in one of the conference discussions
It starts at an early age.
With technology, young gentlemen love their games. Their love grows to become "I want to be able to build this!" and their passion for Computer Science/ Software Engineering is born. For young ladies, it is more common to find them on social media sites, and their use of the sites rarely translates to a desire to look at, learn, or build their own code.

Then we get into academia.
Our young men like challenges and, without apprehension, they'll dive in. If they don't understand, they'll stay persevering until they do. If they still don't understand, they'll fake it like they do.
Our young women? They tend to be apprehensive with unknown concepts. They may try it, but if they don't succeed, they'll leave it alone. They'll go back to what they know they're good at, and feel comfortable with.

After graduation.
Nearly every established, highly intellectual woman in in industry or academia at the conference admitted to having the "impostor" syndrome. What did this mean? In rough translation, it meant that women will be given a task and immediately think "I can't do this, how will I do this, I'm not ready, I don't know enough". Then they'll finish it. It will be great, and yet still they'll have this "Yesss, I totally fooled them- I still don't know what I'm doing!" mentality, and feel like a fraud... sound familiar?

The fact is, many women are absolutely brilliant- but they doubt themselves. They could grow to leave legendary impressions on the field, but only if they embrace an opportunity to enter it. Maria enforced that there are a few ways we can break through this "impostor" feeling:

Practice what makes you uncomfortable.
Accept self-doubt as who you are.
Surround yourself with support and look back as well as ahead.
Make yourself do the things that terrify you.

For any lady out there interested in coding- don't give up, and don't undermine your own capabilities. For the ladies who have never given coding a chance- give it a try! And you may never know where it will take you: perhaps into a career with one of the best-ranked jobs in the world!

Thanks for reading & check out the conference if you're even remotely interested! It's more than worth it, I promise :)

~ Helen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Preview #1 at Mac!

Last Saturday was our first Fall Preview Open House at McMaster!

Guests in the lobby chatting with students and faculty members

Some of our amazing volunteers that
helped us throughout the day!
Although Mother Nature rained (pretty extensively) on our parade, we still had hundreds of prospective students with their families filtering through our Engineering buildings to listen to information sessions, view departmental demonstrations, take tours, and speak with our faculty members and current students.
One of our many info sessions!

Engineering Physics had a table display
 of graduating student projects

Our information sessions were actually so packed we had to schedule more in! Here are a few pictures from the days events. If you didn't have the chance to come out last Saturday, we're doing it all over again November 16!

That's me.
Remember kids, hydration is important.

Learn more about the November 16th  Fall Preview here:

I'm also getting ready for the ONCWIC conference November 9th, so stay posted, and I'll tell you how the Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing conference goes!

Until next time!
~ Helen

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Time for a Break: Volunteering for Fall Preview

Ciao everyone!

You get the chance to meet Mac the Marauder!
L to R: Sheena, Mac & Tony.

Classes are under way and midterms are in full swing. Everyone is busy with assignments, lab reports and essays. So what better time then now to take a break from the craziness of school? I will be taking a well-needed break this Saturday, October 26th by volunteering for McMaster University's annual Fall Preview Open House.

You are probably wondering, "What is this Fall Preview?" Well, it's a campus-wide open house, where high school and their parents get a chance to ask questions and get the answers they need about programs and student life.  

All the Mac Eng Car Team will be at Fall Preview.
L to R: Rich & Alex
There will be campus & residence tours, as well as interactive academic information sessions to attend. The best part is that you can meet and talk to current engineering undergraduate students all about Mac Eng! 

If you are planning on attending this event, please register beforehand.

I'm very excited to be volunteering for Fall Preview and getting the chance to meet future Mac Engineers!  

Until next time,
 ~ Danielle

PS. Campus always looks so beautiful this time of year, will all the fall colours!

Such pretty colours on all the trees!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Get sporty!

Hello out there!

Today I want to talk about one of my favourite things: sports.

Whether it is playing sports, or watching the Marauders go for gold, I am there in a heartbeat.
If you like getting decked out in your school colours and painting your face, come hang out with my spirited friends at the Mac football games! 
This is when we beat Waterloo 66 - 3! #fansofthegame

Throughout high school I played on school teams and city leagues. I don't have the skill to play varsity (the inter-university competitive leagues), but McMaster has me covered with a variety of intramural sports leagues offered throughout the school year. Whether you’re into the classics like soccer or basketball, or are interested in trying your hand at something new, like inner-tube water polo, there are intramural teams for you!

Last fall, my women's outdoor soccer team won the championship! #1
I played keeper.

In addition to the McMaster intramurals, the McMaster Engineering Society has sports teams like rugby and hockey, as well as department competitions like the Ratboy Memorial Soccer Tournament. Ratboy is a day-long outdoor soccer tournament that happens in the spring, just before exams. All the engineering departments face-off on the pitch for ultimate glory and a shiny trophy! New this year are department competitions that happen once a month. In September, the Chemical Engineering department beat the Civil Engineering department at an intense game of soccer-baseball! (As a chemical engineering student, I'm pretty proud :) )

Many first year students ask “can you find the time to play sports with the heavy engineering workload?” and my answer to that is “YES! Absolutely!”. In fact, I think a big part of being strong academically is finding time to do things you love and keeping balance. So join a team, kick a ball around, swim, and give you brain strength to rock those 
In indoor, my team made it to the finals and ended up in second after a close match.
 (That's me in the bottom right)

Hope to see you all on the courts or on the pitch!

Later days,