Congratulations! You’ve registered for WE17, booked your plane ticket, and reserved your hotel room. Wait, you haven’t? It’s still not too late to register for the national conference – visit we17.swe.org to register and learn more about it. But for those SWEsters that did, this week’s blog is intended to help you pack, plan your schedule(s), what to expect, and to provide suggestions on how to enable you to experience the most out of the conference weekend.
Sample Itinerary: the great thing about Austin, TX is that it’s in the Midwest, so it’s a shorter distance for those of us from the Golden West. If you are flying out on Thursday morning, and departing Sunday morning, here’s a sample schedule:
- Arrive Thursday afternoon in Austin – be sure to coordinate ahead of time if you’re going to the hotel together with your fellow SWEsters by researching hotel shuttle buses (that are free!), taxi services, or the local Uber/Lyft policies.
- After refreshing yourself and settling in your hotel, don’t relax for too long! You can check in at the convention center and pick up your name tag and conference materials (hint: checking in earlier means you get free conference swag!). Companies also host hospitality suites where you can interact with industry representatives and sign up for interviews that may be held as early as Friday. Feel free to also explore the conference center and familiarize yourself on where important areas are: where to check-in, where the career fair will be held, conference room layouts, and where the map is in case you forget.
- Grab dinner and go out on the town! The wonderful thing about conferences is that it’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect with old friends who may live further or meet new ones. It’s also a great time to meet your fellow SWEsters within Region A.
- Before you get your beauty sleep for Friday, ensure your conference materials are ready to go: resume, portfolio/binders, some paper/pens to take notes, and don’t forget water and a snack!
- In your conference materials, there’s typically a schedule of all the different events happening. On Friday, one of the main events is the illustrious career fair. One tactic is to attend the career fair first, take a break and attend a few talks, or go to a session while waiting for an interview. Be sure to use the conference planner that can also create reminders for when certain sessions will begin! Some recommended sessions/areas include:
- Mother’s break room, in case you’re traveling with your children and need a little more privacy and attention with your little ones.
- LCC Drop-In Coaching: Perfect opportunity for collegiate section leaders to ask questions regarding their section performance. Questions could range from fundraising, conflict resolution, connection assistance, to just how to be a better leader as well! Don’t know who’s your LCC? Email us!
- Hidden Opportunities: Non-Traditional Roles for Engineers at NASA
- Lightning Talks: on Friday, there are a few exploring innovation in technology and digital life, as well as advocacy for change and human life. Lightning talks are quick sessions (about 15 min.) that concisely present a topic. They’re perfect for those awkward gaps you have in between sessions or waiting for an interview.
- I Have a Job, Why am I Still Poor? Money Matters as You Transition from collegiate to professional life.
- And much, much more! The sessions are split into different categories such as K-12 Outreach, SWE Leadership, Career Management, Women in Academia, Diversity and Inclusion, and more! If you’re more interested in a general theme, search by categories first.
- As busy as WE17 may be, feel free to step out of the conference to grab coffee or lunch at nearby. Yelp recommends these places right next to Austin Convention Center:
- Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill: Southern Food/Breakfast & Brunch
- Stella San Jac: American/Sandwiches
- Cafe Blue (downtown): Seafood/Steakhouses/Cocktails & Bars
- Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken: fried chicken, enough said
- Austin Taco Project: Tapas/Small Plates/Tacos/Bars
The conference is such a unique experience, and not one experience is the same; WE17 is designed to be customized to each person’s preference.
Should I pack for the whole day? If so, what should I pack and wear?
If your hotel is close to the convention center, I’d recommend to pack for only the conference, and return to your hotel if you’d like to change for more personal exploring around Texas. For a conference-only packing, I’d recommend wearing stylish, professional, yet comfortable shoes; business casual for Friday, especially if you’re interacting with company representatives; resumes/portfolios (specifically, something hard to write on); pens/paper; water bottle; portable phone charger; hand sanitizing gel; breath mints; extra hair tie or safety pins or emergency sewing kit; and a tasteful purse or backpack or bag to put this all in. As we get closer to the conference, our blog will feature what kind of bags/outfits would work.
If your hotel is further and you want to avoid multiple trips, or planning to stay downtown all day, I’d recommend bringing a change of clothes and the above and leaving it at check-in.
Is the conference overwhelming? How will I know what to do first?
Yes – it can definitely be overwhelming for a first-timer, or even a tenth-timer. I’d recommend just familiarizing yourself with the conference planner and starring which ones appeal to you the most. If you know that you definitely want a job or an internship, you might want to focus on the career fair and professional development sessions. If you’re trying to understand SWE at a higher-level and learn how to increase your involvement, the LCC Drop-In Coaching or organization-related sessions may be more appropriate. I’d also recommend arriving at the convention center at least an hour earlier to settle your nerves. Sometimes things seem more intimidating at face-value. And don’t stress if your perfect plan falls through – just wing it! Often, the best experiences or memories are the unplanned ones.
One tactic is to tag along with someone else who is interested in a session or company, or another tactic is to divide and conquer between yourself and conference attendees/friends/SWEsters if you can’t choose. Then, you can exchange notes!
Stay tuned – please keep submitting all your questions and best practices! We’ll be featuring topics like outfits, what to pack in your suitcase, what to do in Austin, and more as WE17 approaches!