By John J. Henry
On Thursday, September 14th, Accenture, a large international consulting firm, held a networking event in the North Academic Center (NAC), where representatives spoke about the company and its employment opportunities. Before beginning, Juan Vasquez, a member of CCNY’s Career and Professional Development Institute, stood at the podium and pointed towards a group of women in the back of the small auditorium. He took a moment to praise and thank the event’s organizers, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), an undergraduate club here on campus.
This wasn’t the first time the SWE organized a professional event like this. They frequently give students the opportunity to engage directly with potential future employers.
The Society of Women Engineers is an international organization that seeks to, “Empower women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders; expand the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion.” And CCNY’s chapter is no exception in this matter.
The SWE hosts numerous events throughout the year that intend to prepare students for careers after graduating. They offer interview preparation sessions, resume writing workshops, and LinkedIn workshops that help students looking for employment or internships learn the best practices when entering in the job-seeking and hiring process. Additionally, while coordinating with various clubs and organizations here on campus, including the Career and Professional Development Institute, SWE organizes networking events with many companies, including Accenture, Con Edison, Google, and Pratt & Whitney.
The club has a Discord server, where SWE frequently informs over 300 users about internship opportunities and professional events run by other clubs. “I think we do a good job of promoting a lot of events on campus,” said the President of CCNY’s SWE, Jaimie Zhao. However, this is not all SWE offers, she adds. "[W]e also have social events like we had a sweet picnic. And we also had a self defense workshop and we have a lot of collabs with other clubs."
The SWE primarily works to advance the representation of women in engineering disciplines, but all students are welcome to participate. “So whenever we talk about the club, it’s really just like a supportive community for all students… We’re focused on supporting women, but men can join; people outside of STEM majors as well,” Zhao said. She mentioned that a psychology major participated regularly. “ [It's a] supportive community,” Zhao stated. “ [They can do] resume writing work, or interview prep. I think everyone can kind of benefit.” Tricia Marchese, the club's Treasurer, added, "[O]ur goal is just to be a consistent presence for people in engineering. To provide services and community."
Community was one of the factors that motivated many members to get involved with SWE. “So, for me, I joined as a freshman and like being a woman in engineering. You see, like in your classes, there's probably only like, at most, five girls compared to like the rest of the class, guys,” Zhao explained. “Having the Society of Women Engineers as a club, seeing all the opportunities they provide, and the professional development and also the social event…it drew me because of that, like finding other people who are in similar situations as me.”
“I was really lucky to be able to be in a place where women and engineering were so encouraged and supported. And I think I just want to be a part of a system that I consider to be contributing to that culture,” Tricia said.
The SWE’s entire board are seniors who will graduate in the Spring, and the club leaders are actively looking for replacements. Tricia expressed excitement for the hiring process. “We really enjoy working with new people. I feel like I can speak for the whole board when I say that and we really want SWE to be successful after we leave,” she said.