From March 25-27, the Fermilab professional chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers will host the virtual Regional Leadership Development Conference for the Midwest and East Coast. Early bird registration is open until Feb. 23. The conference is sponsored by Fermilab, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and industry partners such as Accenture, the U.S. Department of Energy, NSA, and America’s Navy.
We expect about 700 attendees, primarily engineering students and professionals. The conference agenda includes career, leadership and professional-development workshops focused on topics such as effective time management, developing the ability to influence others and strategic planning for career success.
The motto of the conference is “Discover your own magic!” The RLDC agenda was built on continual self-improvement strategies to improve leadership skills and strategic career paths.
This is a great professional development and networking opportunity for Fermilab employees and users. During previous versions of this conference and other events sponsored by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, we have had the chance to meet and recruit diverse talent, such as Monica Alvarez, an ES&H safety specialist that recently joined the lab. Below is a Q&A with Monica. As you’ll read, SHPE is an active organization that connects people like Monica to opportunities for professional growth.
How did you hear about Fermilab?
Monica Alvarez: The very first time I heard about Fermilab was during a SHPE student meeting at my school, Northern Illinois University, while planning who would attend the science fair. And then I learned more about Fermilab on our way to and from the Noche de Ciencias Fair, hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago SHPE chapter. I was on the bus that took us to the location in Chicago, and that is where I met Jeny and Felipe, both from Fermilab. We talked during the ride about their career paths and the lab. Before that, I did not know about Fermilab and what is enclosed within its boundaries: Buffalo!! In a lab? I mean, it is unique ?.
What can you tell the audience about your experience of interacting with SHPE Fermilab members?
It is always very reassuring to see familiar faces when you are new to a job, especially in a place as big as the lab. I appreciated that Jeny reached out to me to be part of SHPE Fermilab. This is a sign that SHPE Fermilab members look out for other SHPE members, and this is the networking that, as students, we are always advised to work on. It feels good that she remembered me after our talk on that bus almost three years ago.
Did you have a chance to visit Fermilab when you were a student? What did you like about it? How many RLDCs conferences did you attend during your student years?
I did have the chance to visit Fermilab for the very first time as a student back in 2018 during the Noche de Ciencias Fair hosted by SHPE Fermilab. I remembered we worked on a go-cart experiment. The kids had fun that night. My first impression when I stepped inside Wilson Hall were all those flags hanging from the east and west side towers, in the atrium area. I LOVED IT! I saw my country, Mexico, represented up there, and that gives you a sense of belonging. You feel proud that in some way somebody is contributing to something great. I have attended two RLDC conferences: one in 2017 in Detroit and my second in 2018 in Chicago. In addition, I had the opportunity to attend to one SHPE national conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
Tell us about your job and your department. How has the onboarding process been?
I serve as one of the safety specialists in the ES&H Section. As a safety specialist, I perform work site assessments with other safety professionals to determine what kinds of risks and hazards may exist and whether the site meets all regulatory compliance standards. In addition, I am a resource to the subcontractors that do some service or work here at the lab.
All my co-workers have been immensely helpful to me. They have made the onboarding process enjoyable.
Jeny Teheran is a Fermilab cybersecurity analyst and the conference chair for RLDC.