Bagabe at the conference.

From March 23-27, 2016, University of Arkansas biomedical engineering student Grace Bagabe attended the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 42nd Annual Convention, the theme of which was “Engineering A Cultural Change.” Below, Bagabe offers her reflections on the conference:

My experience at the NSBE 42nd Annual Convention was extremely rewarding. The NSBE Convention was a 4-day conference that took place in Boston, Massachusetts. There were a variety of events ranging from sessions on how to improve your networking skills to empowering presentations from heads of top companies. The main event was the 2-day career fair where big companies and universities from all around the country came to network and recruit students for jobs and internships. Over 300 companies and universities attended the career fair. This was an incredible experience for me because I got the opportunity to speak to some of my dream companies.

As most biomedical engineering students are aware of, not many companies come to the STEM career fairs at the U. of A. seeking biomedical engineering students. It felt new and exciting to speak to companies who do exactly what I want to do, and are actually interested in my experiences. It was at first nerve-racking to speak with the companies, but I became more confident as time went on. Some examples of the biomedical engineering companies that attended are Boston Scientific, Edwards Life and Sciences, Medtronic, and General Electric, among others. Other great companies that attended include Google, Intel, General Motors, Ford, and so on. This experience opened my eyes to the many opportunities that are out there, and the things that are attainable if one is determined.

The conference in full swing!

The conference in full swing!

I also enjoyed networking and interacting with students from different schools and backgrounds who share similar goals and dreams. I was particularly motivated by the success stories of the NSBE alumni and how they have made a huge impact in their companies. It was encouraging to hear that not so long ago they were in our shoes, and have since just worked hard to get to where they are. Another interesting event that I attended was the National Society of Black Engineers 19th Annual Golden Torch Awards at the closing ceremony. Achievements by NSBE students from different schools were recognized and inspiring speeches were given by some of the most incredible speakers. Additionally, awards were presented to NSBE alumni that have given back and contributed to the organization. There were many other useful activities that were offered throughout the Convention—for example, students could have their resumes evaluated and receive constructive criticism from leading resume experts, and could also receive tips on preparing for interviews.

Overall, this was an incredible experience. I made a lot of great connections, which I believe will potentially help me in my job search in the future, and I want to close by extending my utmost appreciation to the biomedical engineering department for sponsoring me for this trip. This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without their assistance.

—Grace Bagabe