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

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