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