UW Faculty of Science Event: Speed Networking!

March 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Networking is my middle name.  That being said, I rarely attend school events – not for lack of interest, but in most cases, for lack of time!  After all, how can a Science Girl think about enjoying life when there are 70-page lab reports waiting to be written, DNS Assays waiting to be discussed, and Biolog MicroPlates results in want of interpretation?

But after spending 2 and a half hours this afternoon just writing linker text for ONE part of my MULTI-PART, MULTI-MODULE  lab report #2 for BIOL 348L (Laboratory Methods in Microbiology), I started to foresee a lot of headbanging in the near future, and was ready for my break.

Tonight’s break? A Speed Networking Event, hosted by the University of Waterloo’s very own Faculty of Science.

The following blurb is taken from their website:

On Tuesday, March 23rd at 5:25 pm, the Faculty of Science will host its first Speed Networking event. Undergraduate and graduate students will meet 27 Waterloo Science alumni during a fast-paced, career-focused, interactive hour.

These alumni, representing traditional and non-traditional science careers, will share their personal work-related experiences, such as how career decision-making, networking, and even serendipity led them to do what they are doing now.

What is Speed Networking and how does it work?
After a brief introduction to the event, students will move from EIT 1015 to the building’s second level where 20 tables will be located around the stairwell.  At 5-7 minute intervals, students will switch stations. This will provide an opportunity for students to meet with a wide range of professionals.

After the formal speed networking period, an informal time for mingling and refreshments will offer students an opportunity to continue talking to those in professions of their particular interest.

Doesn’t it sound nerdily networky?

As for the event itself, it was conducted bell-ringer style, which made me kind of antsy, but served its purpose to keep the atmosphere engaging, dynamic, and quite frankly, pretty exciting.

In terms of the 27 speakers – or perhaps more accurately, 24 – I definitely would have liked to see more, or, at the very least, more diversity within the group.  Although most of the alumni who came to speak held admittedly very different jobs, they all nonetheless fell into the categories of applied science, education, business, or law.  Many were involved in fisheries or aquatic systems or watershed management.  There was one Physics/Math teacher.  I noted several private practice physicians (doctor, pharmacist, naturopath, optometrist, and a dentist).

Personally, I think it would have been incredibly interesting to meet some Science alumni who decided to take a more non-conventional route: perhaps going into the arts, or becoming an entrepreneur.  In a feedback email to Bonnie Fretz, UW’s Science Alumni Services Co-ordinator and one of the principal organizers of the event, I wrote: “Wouldn’t it be cool to find someone who went into medical illustration? Or went on to run and operate a health food store?  A food microbiologist? Science communication (TV, Radio, journalism, etc.)? Broadcast media?”  (Fine – so maybe I am one heck of an outlier of a Science student, but hey, who could dispute that meeting a UW-alumni-Bob-McDonald-to-be wouldn’t be super-exciting?)

Overall, I have to hand it to the folks over at the Dean of Science’s office who organized the event: it was an admitted success, especially for a first-time event.  I can definitely foresee the Speed Networking Event becoming a huge hit over the next few years, provided that the committee organizers continue to take feedback seriously (especially feedback from me, obviously – ha!) and implement it to improve the event for future terms to come.

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