My career path has been anything but normal. I didn't follow a traditional path to get to where I am today. What do I mean by that? Well, some people go to school because they know EXACTLY what they want to do - they like numbers, major in business and finance and end up as an accountant, or, they want to be a teacher so they pursue a degree in education.
When I started college, all I knew was that I wanted to be an IUP Majorette. That dream (or reality) was short lived, and after that period was over, I wondered from major to major - music education to math education to applied math. One thing was certain, I had no clue what I wanted to be 'when I grew up.'
I knew that having an internship was important however my department didn't have a formal internship program. What did I do? I blazed the trail for other students in my department and helped lay the foundation for establishing internships.
After I started my job with my current employer as an 'Engineer' (not formally trained working for a Defense Contractor), I found out about an organization called 'The Society of Women Engineers.' I thought it would be helpful to associate myself with an organization that had such a powerful message - 'Aspire. Advance. Achieve.' I knew that I could learn a lot from an organization that focused on advancing the role women play in a predominately male driven field and encouraging women to pursue degrees in engineering. Being that I worked in a male-dominated industry, I knew SWE was critical to my success.
I quickly became involved and participated in my first SWE Conference. The conference was held in Kansas City and the theme was 'Women Blazing Technology Trails.' Quite fitting for my journey thus far. I was absolutely amazed at the conference - the sessions on engineering, leadership, struggles and triumphs validated my reason for wanting to join such a wonderful society.
I wasn't getting the opportunity at work to develop my presentation skills, so I naturally looked to SWE to assist. I submitted an abstract for the next National conference and imagine my surprise and delight when I was not only asked to present, but to make the session a 4 hour Career Enhancement Series. Talk about a challenge! For the past 5 years, I've developed, expanded and perfected my public speaking skills and all because SWE provided the opportunity and I decided to take advantage of it.
After taking a year off to experience the joys of motherhood without any added activities, I'm back at the conference speaking on 'Guilty: The Diary of a Working Mother' and sharing my lessons learned for navigating the first year of motherhood and parenthood.
After participating in today's sessions, filled with wonderful information to take back to the work-place (and I do plan to share them with you, too!), I realized why I love participating in the 'sWE' National Conferences - motivated, engaged, and enthusiastic participants who feed off of the energy of the other participants and, knowingly or not, REENERGIZE, RECHARGE and INSPIRE their fellow SWEers to be the best they can be. Yes, SWE Members, YOU are TRUE LEADERS!