The Women in STEM networking dinner kicked off at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Centennial Student Union.
The dinner was a place for women from all different domains of STEM careers to network with one another and converse about common interests.
Minnesota State University, Mankato alum Sarah Kruse welcomed attendees to the event. There was also a panel of women in STEM available to answer questions the attendees had about STEM careers. Professors, alumni, students and others interested in STEM attended.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. For a long time, careers falling under the STEM domain were widely taken up by men, but now, women are starting to make force than ever before.
The panel at the event was made up of three women, each representing a different career. The first was Jessica Davis, a 2001 graduate of MNSU, and current math teacher at South Saint Paul Secondary School. She was voted 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
Another MNSU graduate, Alyssa Lillehaugen, graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Technology. She now works at Securian Financial in Saint Paul. The third panel member was Sarah Lloyd, a project manager at Bolton and Menk engineering firm.
The increase of women in STEM careers has been steady over the years, and when the panelists were asked if they noticed an increase in their particular field, Lloyd said she noticed a significant increase.
“I graduated with about 10 to 15% females in civil engineering and I think we’re at about 50% [females] within the engineering side of our firm,” she said.
She also expressed that she is passionate about recruiting more women to her field and hopes she sees more women in engineering in the future.
The panelists also answered questions that were very relevant to undergraduate students on the lookout for internship or job opportunities.
An audience member asked, “As we look for internships or entry level positions, what are your recommendations to what might set me apart from other candidates? What are the biggest impact factors?”
Lillehaugen, who’s also a recruiter for Securian and answered, “Give me a story that I will remember so that when I’m looking at your resume, I can write that down. That way, when we’re looking back through the 50 to 100 resumes, we have something to remember you by.”
Lillehaugen stressed the importance of making a good first impression when you walk into the interview. She said additional experience from jobs or internships can help set you apart from other candidates.
There are many more events and Recognized Student Organizations for women to get involved with STEM. One club exclusively for women is Society of Women Engineers, or SWE. Find this organization’s information on the MNSU website. For more information on the Women in STEM networking dinner, visit the Women’s Center or check out the Her Campus MNSU magazine.
Header photo: Associate Professor in the Computer Information Science program, Sarah Kruse, talks to a group of students at a table during the Women in STEM Dinner event in the Centennial Student Union Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 Mankato, Minn. (Jack Linell/MSU Reporter)