Attending and Speaking at SWE WE Local

Earlier this month, I had the honor of speaking at a SWE Conference. In this month’s blog post, we will cover preparing for being a speaker, the associated costs to attend this conference, as well as tips if you are attending a SWE Conference in the future.

One of the things I always recommend to those who are attending any conference is to always have a plan. Plan out prior the sessions you want to attend and the speakers you want to see. This will help you make the most out of your time and be able to maximize the benefits of attending the conference. I also recommend having a plan for networking as well. Make sure to reach out to people you meet while at the conference and build relationships with them. I personally connect with them and LinkedIn and include a short personalized note in the connection request. This will help you build your network and create lasting connections. Finally, I recommend having a plan for your own presentation if you are also speaking. For SWE Conference presentations, I typically anticipate collegiates and professionals from a wide range of engineering and technical sciences backgrounds. For my topic of Classroom to the Boardroom, I assumed that the majority of the audience would be collegiates about to graduate and fellow early career professionals. You want to keep your anticipated audience in mind when creating your presentation to ensure that you are providing the most valuable and relevant information possible. Additionally, make sure you practice and prepare for your presentation so that you can deliver your message in the best way possible.

Speaking at WE Local Detroit

Costs to Attend SWE WE Local

In terms of costs, there are three main costs to attend any conference: registration, lodging, and travel to and from the conference. In total, I spent about $700 in total to attend WE Local Detroit. As a speaker, I received a 20% off discount code on my registration (Originally $175 for a professional SWE member and Early Bird Pricing). For those not interested in speaking, SWE also offers a 20% discount to those who volunteer for at least one shift at WE Local Conferences. To save cost on lodging, I recommend finding someone to room with at the conference hotel to split the cost. The WE Local Detroit host committee created a Facebook group beforehand for folks to coordinate sharing rooms and ask questions before the conference. As Detroit is fairly far from Philadelphia, I elected to fly there. I saved about $40 on my flight by using Google Flights to track the cost of tickets and waited to book when the cost dropped. Another way to save costs is to use public transportation to travel between the airport and the conference. I took a ride-share from the airport to the Detroit Convention Center which took 30 minutes and cost about $40 including tip. On the way back to the airport on Sunday, I decided to take the bus which was about an hour and only cost $2 (and is more sustainable).

Day 1:

The first day of SWE WE Local was awesome! When I checked in at the registration desk, I was given my speaker gift which was a small waterproof pouch that is perfect for storing makeup on the go. The keynotes and breakout sessions I attended during this day were phenomenal and I loved getting to chat with fellow SWE members. I personally recommend that you prioritize attending the SWE Town Hall as that is where they provide a society-level SWE update as well as provide an opportunity to ask questions to SWE Leaders. WE Local Celebration was the last event of the night where got to sample some local Detroit food and drinks!

Because I arrived Friday morning, I brought my suitcase with me and was able to leave it at coat check at the convention center until after the conference ended for the day. After the conference, I checked into my hotel, laid out my clothes for the next day, and reflect on the day.

Day 2:

The second and last day of SWE WE Local was just as great and busy! Both of my sessions were on this day. The first was a panel with the Early Career Professionals Affinity Group on the transition from the classroom to the boardroom. While we did have backup questions planned, the audience had a bunch of great questions throughout the entire session so we didn’t end up needing the backup questions. My second presentation was focused on the path to becoming a professional engineer which also went well and I even got to me some of you readers at the end of my session! I usually like to take a break away from the conference after I am done speaking, but lunch was immediately after so my break was delayed. I am glad that I went to the lunch because, as an award recipient, I had the honor of sitting with the current SWE president and a past SWE president that I admire greatly. Our table had a great time networking during lunch! Afterward, I took the local street car to the Michigan Science Center to pick up a pressed penny (I collect them anytime I visit a new state). This also served as a great break away from the conference which I need to decompress after any public speaking opportunity. I got back in time for the last breakout sessions. I personally attended an engaging panel about how STEM can take you anywhere (including many fields outside of STEM). While there were about 45 minutes between the last breakout session and the WE Achieve Awards reception, I stayed on-site. I originally was going to change outfits as this is what I used to from past SWE Conferences but noticed that most people did not end up changing outfits so I did not either. The WE Achieve Reception started with an amazing keynote from Candies Foster who talked about finding your voice and confidence to take your seat at the table. Following the inspirational talk, they then announced all the SWE WE Local Award recipients who were in attendance. After receiving my award and taking a photo with the current SWE President, I headed back to my hotel for the night to pack for my flight the next day. While I did not utilize it, day 2 also was when the career fair was held. I heard great things from the folks who attended the career fair.

SWE WE Local Detroit was an incredible experience and I am excited to apply again next year to speak at a 2024 WE Local!

Any questions about WE Local Detroit or conferences in general? Please send us an email at or leave a comment below.

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