Hi friends! This week’s blog is going to be all about the SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) 2015 National Conference in Baltimore, Maryland! I’m warning you already, this is probably going to be the longest blog so far because a lot happened during those six days! Disclaimer: I’m going to leave out most of the ‘work’ items, so it might seem like all I did was vacation in Baltimore, but trust me….we worked super long hours to get a lot of the preparation and execution of a successful recruiting venture done. Also, some information may be omitted to protect the innocent (and the guilty lol) which means some juicy items may be left out…feel free to ask me in person for those really fun stories lol. Okay, let’s jump right in!
I had an early morning flight to Baltimore, so the day started VERY early. I started reading ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’which is AMAZING on the flight there. My Core team and I landed in Baltimore, freshened up a bit and then got ready for the first thing on our agenda: Train ride to D.C. and team dinner. And let me just say that I was super excited for Tuesday night for 2 reasons: #1 I’ve never been on a train (and yes it was on my bucket list) and #2 I’ve never been to D.C. and just recently a ton of people told me that D.C. is amazing and that I needed to make it out there. So I pitched the idea of dinner in D.C. to my team and since they are a bunch of fantastic individuals, they all agreed. 🙂 So my first train ride was pretty awesome, the train was fast and comfortable and i can totally use this method of transportation for future trips. I felt like I was in a movie lol. As soon as we got to D.C., I felt super ‘presidential’ 😉 lots of people and a ton of beautiful architecture. We took a taxi to The Old Ebbitt Grill (another bucket list restaurant) suggested by my friends Nick, Hannah, and Zamantha. The Old Ebbitt Grill was super fancy but casual at the same time (they had a coat rack) but the server was super chill. And the food was AMAZING! I had basically all seafood during my time in Baltimore because I wanted to get a taste of what the locals ate. I had the rockfish and it was super flaky and delicious. We then took the train back (which was interesting because the train ride back to Baltimore literally traveled BACKWARDS). It was a weird feeling and I felt kind of dumb for being shocked at the fact that the ride was backwards, because how else would the train turn around? Hahaha, as soon as we got back to Baltimore we all just went straight to bed because the next day would be very busy.
On Wednesday, our first item on the agenda wasn’t until around 10am so I woke up early (which was very hard for me considering that Baltimore is 2 hours ahead of AZ) in order to go explore and cross off some bucket list items. The very first thing I did (totally skipped breakfast…this is how excited I was to go and cross off this bucket list item lol) was to walk about 10 minutes to go and see the Edgar Allan Poe graveyard and memorial! I was so excited to cross off this bucket list item because I’ve been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe ever since I first read one of his more well known short stories ‘The Tell Tale Heart’. The graveyard was a little creepy even though it was broad daylight…but it was still a cool and very unique experience. I got to read some personal details about his life and also check out the graveyard of a few other important people in history (some generals, some architects, etc.). It was a pretty cool experience and I recommend it if you are into history! After visiting Edgar Allan Poe’s graveyard, I went to go check out Babe Ruth’s birthplace that was about five minutes away. It was pretty cool to just stand there and realize that this is where a baseball legend was born (and one of the names of one of my favorite candy bars! lol). That was unfortunately all of the exploring that I was able to do that morning because I had to meet up with my Core team to do some work. While we were doing some item pick-ups for work, we drove past the harbor where some ships were docked. My project lead saw that I was staring out of the window at the ships and since he is super great, he asked if I wanted to stop and take some pictures…so we did lol!! Hahaha, my team was so great. After the item-pick up, we headed down to the Baltimore Convention Center to complete our registration for the conference. Once we got to the registration location, my team and I ran into the University of Arizona SHPE Chapter and it was so great seeing everyone. We then did a little more quick exploring of the inner harbor, and saw some pretty large ships! We then did more work-related items. After finishing up the work-related items, a few members of my Core team joined me to cross off two more bucket list items (#1: Visiting the Star Spangled Banner Flag House and #2 Visiting the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse!). The Star Spangled Banner Flag House is where the flag that inspired the National Anthem was made! It was a really cute house and it was just awesome to be around that much history. The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse was on my bucket list because I’ve never seen a light house in person and I wanted to see one lol. It was tiny, short and stubby! Not like your typical light house, but it was still really cool! After exploring these two places, it was time for another team dinner. We had dinner at a super FANCY place called Charleston. This is probably the fanciest place I’ve ever eaten at and let me tell you, I’ve never felt so poor in my life hahaha. We all had our own personal server which was a little weird to me lol. The food was delicious! There were so many courses that I lost count, but it was all delicious lol. Again, after dinner we all went back to bed because Thursday was going to be super busy (the rest of our recruiters/hiring managers would be arriving then).
Thursday began really early since we all had to prepare for the official first day of the conference. And let me just say that true friendship is when you ask one of your team members to wake you up the next day, and they immediately agree with no hesitation. Thank you Rebecca you are amazing, and I love you! Honeywell had two workshops to present (How Software Has Changed Our Business and Honeywell User Experience). The workshops were phenomenal and I was once again reminded of how proud I am to work for such a fantastic company. I also learned a lot from our two presenters, and if you know me…you know I’m all about that continuous learning. We had lunch at the Pratt Street Ale House which was delicious, I had the grilled chicken and bacon sandwich (it was AMAZING). I needed a tiny break from all the seafood I had been eating lol. After the workshops, we did some more work related items that I won’t mention here but I will say that it involved training the new recruiters/hiring managers and yours truly got to act in a little skit and I had the opportunity to ‘get into character’ lol. After we finished up our work, we had a team dinner with everyone at a place called Alewife Restaurant which was pretty trendy and the food was delicious. This was great because I got to know a lot of our team on a more personal level and it was just really fun putting faces to names after months of emailing back and forth. I met people from all over the states and Puerto Rico who work at various Honeywell sites. I learned a lot about Puerto Rican culture including the lesson that stuck with me throughout the entire conference lol which was that in Puerto Rico they have something called ‘Jueves Social, Viernes Social, Sabado Social, y Domingo de Recuperacion which translates to Social Thursday, Social Friday, Social Saturday, and Recovery Sunday’ lol. This basically means that in Puerto Rico they party, party, party and then recover. I loved this hahaha. I also learned from another Puerto Rican colleague that he was under doctor’s orders to only go out and party on days that start with an ‘M’, which he told me meant that he could only party on Mondays, Muesdays, Mednesdays, Mhursdays, Mridays, Maturdays, and Mundays lol. After the fantastic team dinner, we all left and went to go do some last minute work-related items and then a few of us started a group message to see who wanted to go out and explore Baltimore’s night life. A few of us ended up at the Power Plant District which is a place where there’s a few restaurants and bars. This was great because I ran into a few U of A alumni and got to reunite, and also ran into some ASU students that I know from back home. It was a great night, and we got to discover that one of our Honeywell people is an AMAZING dancer lol. Jueves Social was a success.
Friday morning started off bright and early with some work-related items until lunch time, which was at the STEM Awards Luncheon. The luncheon was super great because we got to recognize some great people making a difference in STEM throughout the USA. After lunch, came the first real test of the SHPE Conference. It was time for the Career Fair to begin. We all dressed up very nice in our white button downs, and began what was arguably one of the most important parts of the Conference: talking to students and recruiting talent. This was one of my favorite parts because I really enjoy talking to students and seeing the passion they have for engineering, and sharing my own experiences. There were so many fantastic candidates and it made me very proud to see this as a SHPE member. SHPE changed my life when I joined back in 2010 and I am happy to see that it is still changing lives and creating amazing engineers. I also got a little time to go and see the other companies participating and said hello to a few of my U of A alum friends. After the career fair, we all split off and went to different dinner locations. Friday night’s dinner was my absolute favorite because we got to cross off a bucket list restaurant. We ate at the Rusty Scupper which is hands down the best seafood restaurant I have ever been to. I had the Grilled Chilean Sea Bass and the blackened scallops and the Maryland Steak Cake which was basically an 8 layer yellow cake with chocolate and Bailey’s poured over it. It was all AMAZING. There is no such thing as a diet when you are traveling lol. The company was also fantastic, it was about 14 of us from all over the USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia. It was funny because we all look very different (go diversity!) and the first thing our server asks is ‘Are you all family?’ lol we all looked at each other and said ‘Of course!’. We definitely ate like a family: great conversations and everyone was just sharing all their food so I got to try the creme brulee, banana pudding, and key lime pie! It was an awesome dinner. The conversation during that dinner (and during the entire conference actually) was just fantastic. I got to learn a lot about the different functions and business groups within Honeywell. Coming from the Aerospace side, I initially didn’t know very much about what a chemical engineer could do at Honeywell, but after talking to a few chemical engineers I can definitely tell you all about their day. I won’t go into detail here, but feel free to ask me! It was so great to just learn and now I feel a lot more connected to my company now which is an awesome feeling. After, we got a shuttle back to the hotel we were all singing the most random nursery songs (in Spanish of course) from our childhood lol, it was so great. Viernes Social was an absolute blast, another success for the week.
Saturday was definitely the longest day. Again, we woke up early to do some work-related items and then again participated in the Career Fair. I saw some SHPE UA students and it was so humbling to see the growth of these students who I have known for a while. I was proud to see some of them go on to get interviews for Honeywell. The career far was very long 10am-5pm, and I got to bounce around and work different roles because sometimes flexibility was needed and I had to go and help where it was needed. One thing that stuck with me from that day, was that I was told that I needed to jump into another role where we were missing people, and being the person that I am, the first thing I said was ‘Oooh awesome, I’m excited, I’ve been wanting to do this role since yesterday!’ and one of my colleagues said ‘Of course you are, you’re always excited about everything :)’ which is 100% true lol. It’s actually one of my mottos (in Spanish) ‘hay que gozar la vida’ AKA ‘lets enjoy life’. After the very exhausting but super fun career fair, it was time to get ready for theSTAR Awards Gala. A few weeks ago (Blog #6) I mentioned that I had been approached with the awesome opportunity to participate in this prestigious awards ceremony and being the person that I am, I accepted. I had the role of presenting the awards on stage and handing off these awards to the presenters. These awards are amazing, they go to people who make a huge difference in Engineering which includes CEOs, CTOs, VPs, and so on. I had practiced how I would do my hair and make up for a few weeks so I was totally ready but I anticipated that I would have at least 1.5 hours to get ready which was not the case at all on Saturday lol. The career fair ended a little late for us plus we had to clean up and break everything down so in reality I only had about 30 minutes to get ready!! I’m really efficient though, so I looked semi presentable lol I even sent a picture to my sister and she said ‘wow sister you look so different when you shower’ lol she’s so mean. So I make it to the STAR Awards Gala, and practice with the awards and almost drop these GLASS awards twice, and I also tripped on my long dress once and almost fell onstage, and I also missed my cue and got on stage way too early which was a little awkward. But probably the most awkward thing that happened was that the presenter apparently forgot that I had to give him the award and he just walked away from me so I kind of had to chase him down lol but nobody noticed (at least that’s what my Core Team who was in attendance said) lol. I met some really awesome people back stage including one of my role models Barry Cordero, who was last year’s SHPE National President and is National Board of Directors Chairman this year. He was great, super down to Earth, and we even took a selfie. The story of the selfie is a little awkward though lol. I saw him and knew that I immediately wanted to document this moment, but I didn’t want to be weird so I waited a little and just chatted with him and pretended that I didn’t know he was super important because I didn’t want to look like a huge fan girl but then someone else came and asked him for a selfie so I then told him the truth. He was super cool about it. After surviving the awards show (literally every time I got on stage I panicked a little thinking that I might fall lol), I met up with my Core Team and everyone looked super spiffy and they congratulated me on not falling onstage lol. After the Gala, we all met up at a restaurant/bar called Sliders which had the best environment (everyone check it out) to celebrate the end of a fantastic recruiting session. It was the perfect way to end an amazing week full of recruiting, professional development, and new friendships. A few of us then continued the party where we went to the casino and just had such a blast.
All in all, it was a fantastic couple of days. I had a blast trying some of the best seafood I’ve ever had in my life, learning about different cultures, and reuniting with old friends. It was so great to also make a lot of new friends from all over (including a few places that I’ve recently traveled to) and it was really cool to realize that one of the reasons why I enjoy traveling is that I get to experience new things and it gives me different experiences to bond over with the people who live in those areas. I realized then why it’s important to travel and see new places and experience new things; it gives you an opportunity to share cool memories with other people. Fun fact, trip planning for Puerto Rico in 2016 has officially begun; can’t wait to reunite with my new Puerto Rican friends lol. It was so great just to be surrounded by such great people who have so much more experience out in industry than I do. Thank you to my Core team and the extended team for a fantastic time. So excited to hopefully work with you all next year again in Seattle!
Sorry for the super long post y’all lol but as always thanks for reading 🙂 and feel free to check out my pictures of the trip on instagram with the hashtag: #mairainMD
You can read more blogs on ‘Trips’ here!