Happy Belated Birthday Girl Scouts!

I really meant to post this yesterday, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.  March 12, 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America.  Like SWE, Girl Scouts is about empowering girls.  SWE has partnered with Girl Scouts over the years, both nationally and at the local level, which seems like an obvious pairing.  Were you a Girl Scout?  A Brownie?  What opportunities did the Girl Scouts give you to explore the world around you?  I loved the camping trips, the crafts and earning the badges.  I could have done without the cookie selling.  The cookie eating is much more enjoyable.

I don’t remember any STEM-related badges or activities, though maybe if I think harder I can picture a badge with binary on it that I might have earned.  Certainly there are more of those options now.  What badges can you still remember earning?  How do you support the Girl Scouts?  Buying cookies counts!

How do you say thank you?

Do you send thank you notes after you interview with someone?  I’m pretty sure I sent notes for my current job, but I know I haven’t done it for every position I’ve ever interviewed for.  Certainly not when I was interviewing in college.  I guess now that I think about it, I am more diligent about it when I am more interested in the job.

I’ve done my fair share of interviewing too – college students and seasoned professionals.  I always appreciated getting notes, but I don’t think it in any way influenced my decision on the candidate – primarily because I make that decision right after the interview.  I kind of feel like it was the weaker candidates who were more likely to send notes.  It’s also a little creepy to get a note from someone you did not give your contact information to.  I guess it shows a certain level of initiative to guess your email address, and it isn’t hard these days, but still.  If you really want to send me a note, ask for my card.

So I’m not sure I agree with the Managing Editor of Business Insider who says you absolutely must send a thank-you note electronically.  Do you?

International Women’s Day

How did you celebrate International Women’s Day?  Me, I went to work just like I always do, which may not seem like a good way to celebrate, but that is exactly what the day is meant to recognize – women’s economic, political and social achievements.  We’ve come a long way baby, but there are still more places we can go!

International Women’s Day fall conveniently within Women’s History Month so if you didn’t get a chance to ruminate on the accomplishments of women or remember a mentor or someone who inspired you or encouraged a young girl to pursue her dream, you have three more weeks.  Get out there and celebrate!  And then come back and comment about it!

50 Most Innovative Companies 2012

I took at look at Fast Company’s list of the 50 most innovative companies of 2012 today.  I’ve heard of 23 of them, less than half.  I know I’m not a technology guru, but I am in a technical field and would like to think I’m more informed than average, but this did not reassure me.  So I thought I’d throw it out there.  How many of these companies have you heard of?

Achieve

And finally we get to the third A – Achieve.  I get the logical progression – you aspire to something, you advance toward it and then you finally achieve it.  I think that you go through this cycle many times in your career, not just once.  In my old job, I feel I had achieved a certain degree of expertise and I was providing leadership to a team.  I’d achieved the respect of my coworkers and visibility throughout the company through my activities with the Women’s Network and Green Team.

And then I quit my job and started over again at a new place.  I have to figure out what my new/revised aspirations are.  Then I will plot my path of advancement and hopefully eventually achieve  expertise on my product or our technology or area of the business – I’m not sure what I’m aiming for yet.  But what I do know is that the women I’ve met through SWE will be there to support me and help me continue to grow by putting on great programs and providing me opportunities to build my skills outside the office.

What have you achieved through SWE?

Advance

The second word in SWE’s tagline is Advance.  I could clearly see how SWE helped me to advance in college.  Even as one of the few women in computer science graduating in the heyday of 2000, there is no way I would have had as many job opportunities without the extensive leadership experience I gained in SWE – as Long Range Planning Director and Web Developer.  Even failing to be elected as President taught me valuable lessons and helped me to advance in other areas of my life.  If I hadn’t lost the SWE election, I would never have run for Engineering Council President and I would have missed out on the opportunity to speak at my graduation!

As a professional, I’m less concerned with racking up the officer positions and looking good on paper (though that was more of a fabulous side effect than the reason I was involved in SWE).  SWE is helping me to advance by building my professional network and broadening my knowledge.  I don’t know where that will enable me to advance to, but I’m looking forward to getting there!

How has SWE helped you to advance in your career, life, experience and knowledge?

Aspire

SWE’s tagline is Aspire, Advance, Achieve.  I looked up Aspire since it is one of the words that you can’t define but you know what it means.  At least for me.  The first definition is to have a great ambition or ultimate goal.  I like the third definition: to soar.  Aspire is also the title SWE gives to its K-12 outreach page.

SWE has introduced me to some great leaders in engineering and they have certainly inspired me to aspire to greater things.  What aspirations has SWE provided you with?

Happy Engineers Week!

Since 1951, the third week in February has been for celebrating the contributions of engineers.  This date was selected by the National Society of Professional Engineers to coincide with George Washington’s Birthday.  Apparently our first president is also considered to be our nation’s first engineer.  Who knew?  This is why I love wikipedia.

I first became aware of this event in college and I think later in my college career, not my first year or two if I remember correctly (which I probably don’t).  We coordinated it with the Order of the Engineer.  Hmm… wonder where that ring got to…  Anyway, we celebrated Engineers Week at my old company by doing some quizzes to get your name entered in a raffle, and sometimes having cake.  Our Chicago Regional SWE Section participates in the EWeek celebration at IIT in Wheaton which I will be participating in for the first time this year so stay tuned for news on that.

National SWE is challenging all SWE members to talk about Engineers Week on Social Media every day this week to raise awareness and celebrate engineers.  So I will do my best to post every day this week.  I will in return challenge you to join me in this conversation and comment on the posts.  I’d love to hear how you celebrate engineers week!

Are you friends with your boss?

It’s good to get along well with your boss, manager, supervisor, whatever.  Do you ever chat with them about non-work related things?  Probably pretty common and it’s fairly safe.  Do you interact with your boss outside the office?  Less common I’d guess.  Are you friends with your boss on Facebook?  Apparently up to 20% of people are.  Are they crazy?  Isn’t that what LinkedIn is for?

I’m pretty circumspect with what I post on Facebook, but I believe in the separation of work and home.  Boundaries can be a good, healthy thing.  Where do you set your boundaries?  Have they changed over time?

Wikinomics

I recently listened to Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.  It’s five years old at this point, which for the topic makes it ancient.  It shows its age primarily in its focus on MySpace over Facebook, but it is still a very interesting book and completely relevant.  One of the most interesting things I took away from it is how people and companies are leveraging the internet to engage people all over the world in collective problem solving.  The authors tell the story of a gold mine in Canada that released all their proprietary geological data online to get help locating the best places to drill for gold.  People worldwide freely gave of their time and expertise on the hope that their suggestions on where and how to drill would yield gold and win them a cash prize.  And it worked!

Where did they get such a ground-breaking (pun intended) idea?  From Linux, or more generally open source communities.  The authors also talk about how open source was embraced by IBM and brought that company back to the forefront.  I used to think of open source only in the context of software.  This book really opened my eyes to how it could be applied more generally.  And then as a Christmas gift I got a Kiva giftcard.  It introduced me to the concept of micro-financing, which is where a whole bunch of people give a little bit of money as a loan.  Eventually all the investors get paid back and then can loan it to someone else.  It’s the perfect gift for someone who has it all.

It gets me thinking how my company could benefit from opening its boundaries.  But would they?  I have my doubts.  How open-minded is your company about open-source?