“The Infamous Career Decision: Academia or Industry” – Kate Rogers Davis

Academia or industry after graduate school?..Or both?  Kate Rogers Davis, who currently serves as both a software engineer at PowerWorld Corporation and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois, will speak to her pursuit of industry and academia and how she became interested in each area.  Serving in two such differing roles has made her advanced degree in engineering even more valuable throughout her professional career.  She will discuss when and why she decided to pursue advanced degrees in Electrical Engineering and specifically how those degrees have contributed to her success and ability to effectively work in both academia and industry.

“Combining Interests and Expertise to Shape your Career” – Roshni Kasad

A common misconception among graduate students is that people believe they must stick to the same technical research area in which they earned a Ph.D. in order to find a job.  While it might be more difficult to switch research areas or to switch fields entirely, it is possible to make this career change with the right motivation and determination.  After finishing her Ph.D., Roshni Kasad followed her passion for outreach and community service to Techbridge, an Oakland-based organization that promotes girls’ interest and skills in STEM.  Roshni will share her personal story of managing the transition from graduate school in Molecular and Cellular Biology to working professionally in the outreach area.  She will discuss some challenges she faced along the way to getting her Ph.D. and finding a career that was the right fit for her.  Her enthusiasm for STEM and Outreach is contagious and will inspire you to pursue whatever it is you feel passionate about.

“The Balancing Act” – Jackie Kunzler

Do you ever feel “busy”? Do you ever feel like you need 100 hours in a day? Time management is a coveted skill and is important when pursuing high-pressure, dynamic careers like those in STEM areas often are.  Jackie Kunzler has a lifetime of experience with juggling a myriad of professional, academic, and personal roles as she pursued all of her advanced degrees (M.S., M.B.A., and Ph.D.) while working fulltime and raising three children.  She will share her incredible story of managing all areas of her life while staying motivated through the challenges she faced both technically and personally. The pursuit of an advanced degree can be daunting for a lot of women, especially with pressure to have a career, family, and maintain some level of work/life balance.  Jackie Kunzler’s story will inspire you to “do it all”, and more… at the same time!

“The Value of Networking” – Marilyn Tears

Sometimes the key to success is not only what you know but who you know and the relationships that you develop.  Networking is a tool that, if used effectively, can make a big difference in your career.  Marilyn Tears, an Illinois Grad, and currently a Project Manager at the ExxonMobil Development Company, has experience establishing women’s networks in the workplace.  She was a founding member of the team that established the Upstream Women’s network at ExxonMobil.  Marilyn will share her perspective on the value to be gained from networking in various stages of your career based on her over 30 years of working in industry.  Her insights on both informal and formal networks, as well as networks in and out of the workplace will inspire you to proactively work towards building connections for yourself.

“Navigating Academia and Personal Life in a Dual Career Couple” – Amy Wagoner Johnson

At various stages in your career you may pause to reflect on where you are professionally and where your career is headed.  Having traveled what is considered a less conventional path for an academic, Amy will share her perception in retrospect of how she came to be where she is today and the impact of some of the choices along the way.  Like many in the audience are, or will be, Amy is one half of a dual-career academic couple and has worked through the academic job hunt process multiple times.  Her story will leave you feeling encouraged and excited about your career ahead, even if you don’t know yet what it will hold.  She will offer some practical advice on how to navigate this sometimes daunting balance of life and career based on her own experiences in a dual-career couple, much of which certainly also applies to those who are not dual-career couples.