“If something of value needs to be done, step up and do it. Be the one that people recognize as willing to take a challenge.”
With this call to action, keynote speaker Coleen Burke ME ’90, MBA ’99, a director at Boeing’s Advanced Systems division, set the tone for the third annual networking dinner of the Villanova chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), held on November 20, 2008, in the Connelly Center. The event, funded by Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., enabled some 150 male and female engineering students and professional engineers to meet and mingle in a relaxed setting.
According to Dr. Dorothy Skaf, associate professor of Chemical Engineering and SWE’s faculty advisor, the members first planned the dinner to create an opportunity for students to talk to professionals outside the context of a job interview. “The dinner encourages students to begin building a network of contacts that can be a resource in their careers.” To strengthen that network, SWE gave the professionals who attended the dinner a book containing the students’ resumes, helping them put names and qualifications with faces.
Prior to the event, SWE and Career Services hosted a session on networking dos and don’ts. Dozens of students took part in the training, and their efforts paid off. “I was impressed with the students’ networking skills at the dinner,” said SWE president Sarah Arscott ME ’09, who noted that students seemed comfortable interacting with the professionals—and each other. Sophomore Christy Rosati, SWE’s representative on the Engineering Student Council, agreed. “I enjoyed getting to know upperclassmen and hearing their perspectives.”
Founded in 1950, SWE is a not-for-profit educational and service organization that empowers women to succeed and advance in engineering. The College of Engineering and the Engineering Alumni Society provide financial support for the Villanova chapter.