The Student-Professional Networking event was organized on Thursday, September 10 during the 2020 International Ultrasonics Symposium. This event provided student attendees with the valuable opportunity to meet both academic professors and industry representatives, combining elements of the Student-Professor and Student-Industry networking events from previous years. For students, one frequently-cited benefit of attending an academic conference such as IUS 2020 is the chance to network with professionals and future colleagues and/or employers. With the conference being conducted virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event helped facilitate new connections between students and professionals that would have likely not been otherwise possible.
At the start of the event, the IEEE UFFC-S Ultrasonics Student Representatives welcomed everyone and invited all participants to temporarily edit their display names on Zoom to include either “S – ” for “Student” or “P -” for “Professional” to help identify each attendee’s role. A list of conversation starters were also provided to everyone to help spark ideas for discussion, including icebreakers for general introductions, conference-related discussion topics, and career-related discussion topics.
During the event itself, participants were sorted into smaller breakout rooms of four to six people, with at least one professor or industry member in each breakout room to facilitate conversations in a more comfortable group setting. The random assignment of rooms allowed students to meet and speak with professionals from different fields that they may not have had a chance to meet otherwise and to talk to industry members as well as academic professors. Breakout rooms were randomly reassigned about every 10 minutes so that people had a chance to converse within different groups of people while allowing enough time for substantive conversations.
Overall, students as well as professionals really enjoyed the opportunity to connect virtually during this event. In a post-event survey, all respondents indicated that they would like to see this type of event held in future IUS conferences. One student wrote: “I really enjoyed this! I was missing the in-person interactions and I loved meeting new people. Also having professionals in the break-out groups was really nice and they provided good advice.“ Another student commented that “especially for this virtual conference I found it a nice opportunity to chat with others!”
Professionals who attended this event also commented that “the students were all really keen to talk and share their experiences and plans… it was nice to talk about jobs, career paths and industry,” and that “it was great to get to interact with students and answer their questions.”
Thank you to everyone who participated in the IUS 2020 Student-Professional Networking event! Stay tuned for more information on new and exciting student events at IEEE IUS 2021.