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Expanded Leadership Workshop Kicks-Off Optics + Photonics

By Jason Hamman

Scores of students arrived in San Diego early to take part in the 6th Annual Student Chapter Leadership Workshop. 105 Student Leaders from 64 Chapters attended the workshop despite bad weather, jet lag, and lost luggage.

New for 2007, the workshop has been expanded to two-days. Saturday began with a welcome breakfast, a large amount of coffee, and a few quick games to prepare students for the day.

Student and Professional
The morning's activities focused on how to present yourself as a professional. Dirk Fabian and Jason Hamman outlined tools to develop your "Professional Persona" – skills that help you network at conferences, interview for jobs, or otherwise demonstrate your abilities as a professional. One of the most important of these tools is the "elevator talk," which is a one-minute introduction describing who you are, what you do, and how your work can be applied in everyday life. The key is to be able to describe your science in terms that people outside of your area can understand - not an easy task in a jargon-filled science like optics.

Download the presentation

Building on these ideas, the concept of a "Professional Portfolio" was introduced as a tool that can help you land jobs. The Professional Portfolio is your personal showcase of achievements and activities that don't typically fit in a résumé/CV, such as chapter outreach activities.

More information

Fun, Sun, and Constructive Discussion
Following a relaxing pool-side lunch and a welcome from SPIE Leadership, students came together to share ideas and experiences with various Chapter issues including:
  • Outreach Activities
  • Recruiting New Members
  • Energizing Chapter Members
  • Industry Relations
  • Managing (Chapter) Money
  • Involving Undergrads
  • Department / Advisor Relations & Department Politics
  • Inter-Chapter Collaboration
The roundtable discussions were well received and produced some great solutions and ideas for future use. Complete notes are located in the Downloads section.
Career Growth
The Sunday program opened with "Grow Your Career," a presentation by Colleen O'Laughlin, GE Global Research. Here students ranked the importance of life goals to help them examine their ideal career paths and the steps needed to reach those goals. Attendees also received valuable tips for negotiating challenges while working to achieve their ideal career.

Remaining events included three break-out sessions with presentations on Presentations & Public Speaking, Optics Outreach & Pedagogy, and Career Development & Leadership. Eight speakers participated in these sessions, followed by a special presentation by Dr. Eugene Arthurs, SPIE CEO during lunch. Additional information about the speakers, and presentation materials, will be posted as it becomes available: With 103 Student Chapters, and more expected in 2008, a major challenge of large conferences such as Optics + Photonics is to facilitate quality interactions. Last year, students provided a number of suggestions on how to improve the Leadership Workshop, including break-out sessions for small group interactions and more social activities. This year's iteration of the Workshop was built with these suggestions in mind. Students enjoyed small group roundtable discussions, three distinct program tracks, and a pool-side "No Ties" social.

Using feedback from this year's workshop, Student Services is working to further improve its programs and is looking forward to an even better event next year!

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