by Nola Yang, Class of 2018
Thanks to the University of Rochester Office of Admissions, the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) at the University of Rochester was able to attend the SASE National Conference on October 12 in Chicago, IL.
Below, SASE members reflect on their time at the conference.
“I had attended the regional conference and I was looking forward to attending the national conference on a larger scale. Prior to attending the national conference, I expected to meet and network with many students, employers, alumni, and professionals.
I was hoping to not only make long-lasting connections and friendships, but also to gain more insight on my career path after graduation and to better understand the role of Asian Americans in the workplace.
At the conference, I attended workshops, networking sessions, resume reviews, career fairs, and leadership workshops. Two of the workshops really changed my outlook on life after graduation and made me realize the vast opportunities I have as an engineer.
One of the workshops was the Young Professional Panel hosted by Srinivas Reddy, the director of product supply for Procter & Gamble (P&G) Global Grooming Business. He talked about his experiences working in the industry and how networking helped him work his way through the company, even in an area where Asian Americans are underrepresented in the workplace. This helped me understand how and when to network with professionals and better understand the opportunities that P&G can provide.
Another workshop I attended was the ‘Your Blueprint for Creating Chemistry for a Sustainable Future at BASF,’ where employers and recruiters talked about the vast opportunities at BASF (the largest chemical company in the world headquartered in Germany). Before to the conference, I had no idea what type of company BASF was. But walking out of the workshop, I was quite interested in their company because their opportunities align with my passions and I was intrigued by their PPD rotation program and the fact that students can experience different divisions that may be unrelated to what they learned during their undergraduate career.
The most memorable experience I had at the conference was the career fair. At first, I was afraid to talk to recruiters, but the recruiter at GlaxoSmithKline, Kiet Luong, made me feel at ease. He was interested in my background and talked about his experiences as an Asian American working in a pharmaceutical company, how he overcame certain barriers, and how SASE is very open and welcoming in helping young leaders find their passion.”
– Anli Lin ’18, biomedical engineering
“My goal for attending the conference was to meet people from other chapters and companies and learn about their mission statement. I saw what it was like to work at certain companies, what their cultures are like, and the type of industry I want to work with in the near future.
I also got to meet other involvement members of SASE around the country. The most remarkable moment was meeting members from SASE chapters back at home, in the Northeast region, and connecting with them.
One interesting thing I took away from SASE was how involved certain chapters are in terms of hosting regional conferences and gathering prospective speakers for workshops, because it is a lot of work and I applaud them for their hard work and commitment.”
– Raymond Chin ’18, biomedical engineering
“I was hoping to meet more people in different collegiate SASE chapters. As a cofounder, I wanted to learn from other chapters on how they successfully grew and developed SASE on their campuses.
I also wanted to network and connect with industry professionals, and maybe get a job offer or interview. From this conference, I learned that networking can happen anywhere. My best experiences with networking ironically happened all throughout the conference, rather than just at the career fair.
I also learned that even though I didn’t get a job offer or interview, the connections I made with professional industry members is more important. For instance, one of the recruiters I spoke to actually sat down with me to have more of a genuine conversation and learn more about me as a person instead of asking me interview-like questions.
She gave me advice that helped me look at the bigger picture, instead of the one set goal I had in mind coming into the career fair that day (get a job!). She taught me the value of a connection, that I’m able to learn from an experienced professional firsthand, that instead of desiring an interview with the company, I should take this opportunity to treat it as my chance to interview the professional. She taught me that I should use events like career fairs to not just seek out job opportunities, but get a better understanding of their job offerings and their company, so that I may become a better candidate in the process.
That recruiter really showed me that the purpose of a career fair, and even other networking events, isn’t solely to provide a job or internship; it’s also about forming that connection with someone who can advise you. This is more important and makes you a better candidate in the future.
My most meaningful moment was on the plane ride back from the conference to Rochester. By chance, my seat on the plane was next to the regional northeast manager in engineering sales for Automated Logic, a division in United Technologies, which was one of the companies present in the career fair. I had wanted to talk to the representative at the career fair but never got the chance.
When I got to my aisle, I saw a gentleman sitting next to my seat. We greeted each other and started small talk. One thing led to another, and I mentioned that I was a University of Rochester senior in chemical engineering, and was in Chicago for the SASE National Conference and career fair. He asked if United Technologies was at the career fair, and then introduced himself as the Regional Northeast Manager.
Words cannot express how elated I was to not only sit next to someone that is in the field I would like to work in, but from a company that I was already interested in. Furthermore, he was also someone who was very open to sharing his experiences in not only the company, but his experiences as an engineer and in his overall career.
For the entire two-and-a-half-hour plane ride, he shared industry advice, personal stories, and even critiqued my resume. We also had a great conversation about the greater good engineers can have in the world. That plane ride with him was the best experience I had during the whole conference.
From our talk, I learned so much more than any other information session or career advisor meeting could have provided. At the end of the plane ride, we exchanged business cards and he told me we should stay in touch. It’s funny how life works sometimes and how the best moments occur when you least expect it.”
– Nola Yang ’18, chemical engineering
“I wanted to expand my networks to people from different regions around the nation. Moreover, I was hoping that I would be able to gain some professional skills from the conference workshops and also meet potential employers from the career fair.
I learned useful tips for telling stories during interviews and I learn about how the engineering/science industry is growing. The best event from the conference to me was the networking events through the lunch session and gala dinner, and a social bonding event with other chapters.
I was able to meet people with different majors and from different schools. I heard research and internship stories from undergraduate students and stories from working individuals in the field.”
– Huy Nguyen ’18, biomedical engineering
“I hoped to gain experience in introducing myself to employers and become more aware of the things that employers are looking for when hiring new talent. I wanted to leave the conference more exposed to the opportunities that companies offer today.
However, after attending, I learned ways in which I could develop a stronger network in order to further my career. The most memorable thing was the mock interview that I participated in where I was taught many different techniques that I can use in interviews. It opened my eyes to how important the little things can be when put into the context of a professional environment.”
– Matthew Le ’20, molecular genetics
“My aim was to try and get a job offer. I realized that after going to the conference, I should prepare more for the next conference in terms of networking, introducing myself, and understanding the values of different companies.
The career fair was the most notable event because I was able to use my elevator pitch that I have been practicing to speak to the companies.”
– Jorge Garcia ’18, mechanical engineering
“I hoped to make more connections and to network with other people. After attending just the career fair, I learned how to organize my resume and to reflect soft skills instead of just listing them.
During the career fair, I realized that the recruiters were all very nice and willing to help me with specific positions. I was able to better understand that I can definitely do something as a career that is not really related to my major.”
– Yuxin Liu ’19, mechanical engineering
“I expected to meet and talk to successful professionals from different big companies and gain ideas about work from them, and hopefully acquire an internship offer. After the conference, I learned that I should have knowledge about the company before I talk to them and that I should be doing research on the companies I would like to work for.
I also learned about some advanced techniques that big companies were developing and about the six sigma culture. The most memorable experience was learning how to talk to professionals with confidence.”
– Jiajin Zhao ’19, biomedical engineering
“Prior to the conference, I hoped to be able to meet lots of people from different schools and companies that shared similar interests with me! I was also hoping to become more comfortable with meeting so many people in such a short period of time. I wanted to learn new skills for approaching companies and doing interviews. I expected to be able understand what it takes to be a part of well-known companies like NASA and General Electric.
I learned so many things from attending the workshops. One of them spoke to us about using storytelling as a device to engage and convince others, especially employers, that we’d be right for the job. The speaker taught us a really fun way to remember the things we should include to convince employers to hire us. We’d say, ‘I have the skills, the passion, and I know how to gel!’ The way we said the sentence made it easy to remember and fun to say. From this workshop, I learned to include a story during interviews that would show the employer that I have the skills, the passion, and that I know how to gel and how to tell that story.
The best aspect of the conference was the fact that there were so many opportunities to network within the span of only three days. During and between panels, workshops, networking sessions, lunches and dinners, mixers, and other events, I met and reconnected with an immense number of people from all levels of experience. One thing that I took away from the conference, from attending the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony, was the inspiration to achieve more individually and as a leader of the SASE Rochester chapter.”
– Leilani Gamboa ’20, physics and astronomy
“As the largest conference in the United States for Asian-Americans, SASE National Conference & STEM Career Fair 2017 was the largest conference I’ve attended. Prior to attending, my main goal was to network with students and professionals from across the country in order to gain insight into industry and ways to improve our newly founded chapter at Rochester.
I also intended to learn and develop professionally from attending workshops and to explore summer internship opportunities at the STEM Career Fair. The workshops and panels I attended provided valuable insight into the current role of data science in the world as well as the unique struggles of being an Asian American in industry. For example, the workshops I attended informed me of the challenges of staying relevant in the rapidly-changing technology sector as well as the challenges at each stage of data analysis, like acquisition, storage, and cleaning.
In addition, the Young Professional Panel taught me that as an Asian-American entry-level employee, it is imperative to make as many connections as possible and to grow one’s network while maintaining a work-life balance.”
– Mcvvina Lin ’19, data science
Thank you to the folks at the Office of Admissions for your support in allowing our members to attend the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers National Conference 2017!