Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let the Games Begin!
UNO Society of Women Engineers Turns Contemporary Dating Practice On Its Head

students line upStudents line up to participate in the UNO-SWE Mardi Gras Speed Networking Event held in February.

The University of New Orleans' chapter of the Society of Women Engineers recently turned tables on a contemporary dating tactic and hosted a speed networking event designed to introduce them to engineering professionals who helped them improve their resumes.

The UNO-SWE Mardi Gras Speed Networking Event ran for three hours in the engineering auditorium, said Jessica Borden, a senior mechanical engineering major and president of the UNO chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. All engineering students were invited to participate and scores turned out to join the fun. Helping to review students' resumes and meet with them in six-minute interviews were top engineering professionals from some of New Orleans' leading engineering firms and organizations.

Borden and Rachel Coggins, a senior majoring in chemical engineering and the president of the UNO chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, decorated the Engineering Auditorium with stringed lights, icicles, giant balls and beads in Mardi Gras colors.

Representatives from engineering firms Top Tier, Inc.; Valero Energy Corporation; Shell Oil Company; Intralox; Atmos Energy; Bartlett Engineering; All South Consulting Engineers; Chevron Oil Company; the Louisiana Department of Transportation; Keystone Engineering; Modjeski and Masters, Inc.; Advance Networking Solution; Slidell Memorial Hospital; MS Benbow and Associates; Cummins Mid-South and the Louisiana Coast Guard all participated. Atmos Entergy bought king cakes, Borden said, and Keystone, Modjeski and Masters, Inc. and Top Tier, Inc. also contributed.

Women engineers spent time mingling with engineers from some of the state's top employers. Then, following a brief introduction, the games began, with professional engineers located at a dozen or so stations. Students rotated through, stopping at each station for a six-minute session in which a professional engineer gave a quick resume review, offered tips and pinpointed weak areas -- even asked mock interview questions.

"Six minutes is a short time with a student but I told professionals if they feel they wish to continue the network...(exchanging) business cards is always encouraged," said Borden. "Accepting the student's resume is wonderful! The purpose of this activity is to help students with their resumes while getting them comfortable with the transition from college to professional life."

Borden, who has worked with SWE for more than a year, said that professionals have frequently mentioned in passing that university students typically need help with resumes and could use tips in better presenting themselves to employers. The ever-creative engineers in the UNO-SWE chapter developed a solution.

The speed networking event is one of a host of creative professional activities engineered this year by UNO SWE. In fall, the engineers paired with local professionals for a scavenger hunt that took place around the city. Coming up this spring are professional talks geared to help engineers prepare for and perform better on professional competency exams and other events.


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