Undergrad

Why You Should Attend GE Women’s Leadership Day

Author Note: This post was update to reflect accurate dates and information!

Sarah Pawlowski ’20

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah and I am a civil and environmental engineering double major at Clarkson. I’m in a few clubs on campus, including Clarkson Hillel (treasurer) and, most importantly, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). I am the president of the Clarkson SWE section, and I was also in a leadership program called the SWE Future Leader program, which only 31 women from across the country were chosen to be a part of. Clarkson has a stigma about being an all-male campus. While we are about 30 percent female, we are a strong and supportive group, and our numbers are growing each year! I’ve never felt like the women on this campus are “just” 30 percent of it.

Before attending Clarkson as a student, I decided to attend Accepted Students Day (which my boss, Erica Beekman, told you about in a previous blog post), as well as the GE Women’s Leadership Day the day before. I had no idea what to expect from the program, but it was an opportunity to meet other students before coming in the fall, so I figured, “Why not?”

I thought it might be helpful for those of you trying to decide if you should attend the GE Women’s Leadership Day to get a sense of what it’s like to participate in the program and what you will get out of it. So, I’ve shared what I found to be most beneficial about attending and some insider info on what to expect at this really special event (this year it is on Friday, March 27, 2020). Keep in mind that this is event is only for students who identify as female and who have been accepted to Clarkson as a first-year student for Fall 2020. 

SWE at Fall Open House 2019

1. Meet and learn from female leaders in the field
GE Women’s Leadership Day is a day full of leadership activities that is sponsored and run by General Electric (GE) and Clarkson’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The program is run by Clarkson alumna in the field, so it is an incredible opportunity to network with female professionals before even starting college. GE hires lots of Clarkson students to work for them in internships, co-ops and full-time positions, so it’s a great way to get your foot in the door if you’re looking to work for a company like GE as a student or after graduation. The women you’ll meet are inspiring women working in fields that have historically been dominated by men, and they have a lot of great insight and stories to share.

2. Do some really fun and helpful activities
Not surprisingly, we did multiple leadership activities throughout the day. When we first arrived, we sat down at tables so that we were split up into groups, and then we started with icebreakers. Next, the GE staff went through a professional presentation, talking about the agenda for the day and then giving some tips on proper use of social media, such as LinkedIn, and other important information for the real world.

We did some activities that I’ll never forget that were all centered around teamwork and communication — two foundations of being successful in your career, we learned. The first activity was a challenge to create an object out of paper that we raced by fanning it with another piece of paper. From what I remember, I don’t think my group did too well. However, it was amazing to see the variety of objects the different groups came up with. Another activity involved a helicopter, Lego parts and a desert island. I remember my team lost by two or three points, so it was kind of disappointing (some of us are competitive!), but it was so much fun working as a team and using everyone’s ideas to create a solution. We also did several more activities that helped us work on important leadership qualities such as communication, delegation and organization, but I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to give too much away!

3. Stay overnight on campus with a female student
I was exhausted by the end of the day because I had to wake up very early and there were so many activities, but I still chose the overnight option. The overnight allowed me the chance to see how Clarkson is at night and what the residence halls look like. The residence hall I stayed in was not for first-year students because my host was a sophomore, but it was still good to get a glimpse of residence life, and I actually lived in the residence hall that I stayed in for my overnight. If you choose to stay overnight, you will most likely stay in the first-year student residence halls. This is definitely something I would recommend because I think it’s important to see what campus life is like without all of the bells and whistles of a formal event and without your parents. There will be activities that are planned that you can choose to go to with your host, such as cupcake decorating and Late Knight movies. Late Knight movies are sponsored by a campus club called Clarkson Union Board, and they are every Friday night around 9 p.m. and include a fun activity that goes along with the movie.

Plus, you get to have dinner with female student campus leaders, and in the morning, the university provides a really good hot breakfast for you and your family to start off the day with before you head to Accepted Students Day.

If you want to stay overnight with a female student host, make sure you reserve your spot ASAP! We have limited capacity for the overnight (unlimited capacity for the rest of the activities). Those who choose NOT to stay overnight are still welcome to attend all other activities and meals. 

SWE Annual Conference, November 2019 Anaheim, CA

4. Meet your future friends and supporters
I didn’t really know anyone when I showed up for GE Women’s Leadership Day, so I didn’t know the people that were in my group. It definitely helped make the transition to college easier because I saw familiar faces at orientation and around campus. One of the people I met is now one of my best friends, and I still talk to a few of the other women I met. It’s incredible to know that we are all growing as leaders together and supporting each other on campus.

I was and still am very grateful for the opportunity to attend this program, and I encourage you to attend if you can make it to campus.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments. If you are a female student who has been accepted for Fall 2020 entry as a first-year student and want to sign up, register for Accepted Students Day here and indicate your interest in GE Leadership Day.

I hope this was helpful for you and hope to see you all there (yes, I’ll be working at it!).

1 Comment

  1. This sounds like a wonderful event… I graduated from Clarkson in 1989 when our percentage was much lower than 30%. It would have been wonderful to have this kind of support. I went on to work for GE for 10 years after graduating. It was a great company. Keep up the good work!

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