WE23 Conference Day in the Life

Ohio State SWE
9 min readNov 22, 2023


This year, over 17 thousand women and allies gathered in Los Angeles, California to network with other engineers, connect with industry companies, and share ideas amongst them. Ohio State SWE was lucky enough to have the opportunity to bring 24 young, accomplished women to WE23 this year, and I am excited for the opportunity to share this amazing experience with others! So, here is my day-to-day at the conference, from the career fair to sessions that I attended, and even OSU SWE-lead activities.

Wednesday — Travel Day

Wednesday was the longest day of the trip, but the excitement was through the roof. We all had to get to the airport by 6:15 am, and our first connecting flight to Chicago took off at 8:20. We all pounced on the airport Starbucks before the flight, and then took to the skies. The flight to Chicago was super quick, and almost everyone took a nap. When we got to Chicago, our layover was only about an hour, so just enough time to run and get lunch before we took off for LAX. Our flight to LAX was almost entirely women from other SWE college sections, which was really exciting to get to talk with some of them. SWE is everywhere, and it’s always so empowering to meet other girls just like you and connect with them. Our next flight was 4 hours long, so of course Lily and I watched Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets and half of Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban. Our flight flew by, and suddenly we were descending into beautiful, sunny LA. We rode in two vans to the hotel we were staying at in downtown LA, and dropped off our luggage before walking to Subway for dinner. After lunch, all of OSU SWE uberred to the Franklin Park Observatory to get a beautiful view of downtown LA and the Hollywood sign. We stayed there for around an hour, just enjoying the scenery and taking a ton of pictures. Soon, we all uberred back, and from then on we pretty much had free time to do whatever we wanted. Personally, my room group was exhausted, so we just went to get checked in and collect our badges from the convention center, and then stayed in our room for the rest of the night. We used this time to research companies at the career fair the next day, and determine which sessions we wanted to attend too. Soon, it was time to sleep and get ready for the next day!

Thursday — Conference Day 1

Thursday was the first official day of the conference! Our morning started off with a keynote by Kate Maxwell, who is the Chief Technology Officer for Defense & Intelligence in Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector. I personally believe Kate’s keynote was amazing, as she combined a lot of personal experience and stories about not feeling good enough, or feeling out of place with her technical skills she has built throughout her career. It was a great kickoff to the SWE conference, and I will take what she said with me for the rest of my life. After the first keynote, there were many different sessions to attend. They ranged from collegiate talks, to industry mentors, and professionals. The first session I attended was called “Grow Your Voice — Grow Your Influence”. At this session, I learned about advocating for myself and others, and how using your voice can impact change and help you grow your career. You deserve to feel empowered to use your voice to impact the world.

After the first session, all of OSU SWE went to a collegiate luncheon sponsored by Lockheed Martin, Chevron and RTX. This was a great opportunity to get to network with other people at your table, and at some of the tables there were industry professionals to network with and hear about their experiences. The message behind the luncheon was SLAY (Leveraging the Aspiration in You), and we explored how to achieve our aspirations. The food was delicious too, which was an added plus. From the collegiate luncheon, we went to our hotel room for a quick break, then headed back to the convention center with confidence to take on the career fair!

The career fair was a beast of its own. Over 470 exhibitors and tables in one giant room — so much opportunity, but also so much stress. As someone who doesn’t enjoy big crowds, the career fair was slightly stressful at first, and I did have to take multiple breaks outside. Once the initial anxiety wore off, I reminded myself that I am capable, I am accomplished, and everyone else in that room was just as scared as I was. I walked back in there and ended up talking to two companies that day, one that I had already interviewed with and received an offer. After talking to Eaton, I decided to talk to Bechtel as I had heard of them before. They actually took me downstairs to the interview room for a same day interview, and while it was scary to do it immediately without preparation, I didn’t have time to overthink it. In between all of this, we all attended Kelly and Logan’s session on making a seat at the table for DEI&B. They absolutely killed it, and gave great tips on how to ask questions about DEI&B within a company at your interviews. You can also research who a company donates to online before your interview!

After the career fair ended, it was time to head to Alumni dinner with OSU SWE at a mexican restaurant called El Cholo. There were 6 past OSU alumni at the dinner with us, and it was actually so helpful to be able to talk with them about their transition from college to industry. This period is very stressful to think about, and hearing about these women and their separate journeys helped to ease some of the stress. I did have to leave dinner early to go to one of the hospitality suites for a company. These suites allow for you to talk to employees within the company, and hear more about a position you may be interested in. It allows for a more personal connection and conversation than the career fair. After talking with some current Eaton employees, it was time to head back to the hotel, and get ready for the next day!

Friday- Conference Day 2

Friday was very similar to Thursday in many ways. When we arrived in the morning, there was another keynote with Joannie Fu of Intel. Her keynote was also very interesting, and she shared some of her insights as a LGBTQ+ leader in STEM, which was very enlightening. She taught us to be extraordinary, and embrace intersectionality. After Joannie’s presentation, it was time to take on the career fair again. Friday was mainly for next day interviews with companies, or still speaking to companies you may have missed the day before. A lot of OSU SWE girls had next day interviews, and we all supported each other and shared advice. Somewhere in the middle of the career fair, I attended a session on “Self Advocacy: a Pathway to Well-Being and Prosperity”. This was probably one of my favorite sessions, as the speaker related a lot of her professional journey to personal moments in her life, like coming to America, the birth of her daughter and such. It was very thought out, and taught me a lot about putting myself first in times of need, and how it will help me grow personally and professionally. I also went to a session on “Break Free From the Imposter Syndrome Trap!” on Friday. This session was very interesting as the speaker said that you cannot be diagnosed with “imposter syndrome”, and how it is better to say “imposter feelings” instead. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have experienced these feelings as well, so I believe this session was very beneficial and I can use some of what I learned back to OSU. Other than these two sessions, I spent the day grabbing free stuff at the career fair, talking to a couple more companies, and checking out Kelly’s presentation poster for the undergraduate research poster competition- she slayed! A lot of us walked back to the hotel after that, as we were tired from another day at the conference. Lily and I got back to our room and got ready to get dinner with her family that lives in LA, and we went to this amazing authentic Italian restaurant. We pretty much all explored around LA that night on our own. Soon, we got back, and rested up for another (and last day) of conference!

Saturday — Conference Day 3

Saturday was the shortest conference day. All of OSU SWE got to the convention center at 10 AM for the rapid fire undergraduate competition because our own Ally was competing. Ally did amazing with her summer research on corn meal and protein bars! The rest of the morning was attending sessions, and I hung out with some of my ELAP girls and caught up with them on their conference experience! We also took a ton of group pictures this day since a lot of the sessions were not required, and we were slacking on our pictures to post. I didn’t attend any sessions this day other than the morning, since I also had to work on some homework in between and study for a midterm. In the afternoon, we had the last keynote of the conference by Maryam Brown, the president of SoCalGas. Her keynote was slightly confusing to follow as I was very tired and felt she was jumping around, but she talked about different levers in her life. After the keynote, there was an optional closing celebration back at the hotel. There was food, mingling and speakers with some music from a DJ. It was incredibly packed, so I only went for a couple of minutes, but we got cookies and milk from it and they were delicious. They also had one of the round video selfie booths, and we took a video of us doing OHIO with our arms and it looked awesome. After we left the celebration, I got back to the hotel and ended up getting dinner with my ELAP girls Reese, Emily and Ally. We went to a little restaurant next to the hotel and they were playing the OSU vs. Wisconsin game on the tv. We all cheered when we won and everyone thought we were crazy. It was so fun to be able to hang out with my girls since I don’t get to see them much, and we all got super close last year through ELAP. They are some of my favorite people, and I wish only the best for them! Other than dinner, we went to the hottub for a little bit at the hotel, and then got ready for bed since we had a long day of traveling ahead.

Sunday — Travel Home

Sunday was another long day of traveling with not a lot of time for layovers. We all gathered in the lobby around 8:30 and took the fancy travel vans back to the airport. When we got to the airport, it took a little bit to get through security, but eventually we all traveled to our gate and dispersed to get breakfast. Everyone flocked to the Einstein bagels next to our gate, and it was absolutely delicious. I still had to study for my midterm that I had the next day, so on the first flight, I bought wifi to be able to go on Carmen to study. It was so strange to get on the plane at 11:30 LA time and fly for 4 hours but land at 6:30 in Atlanta time. The Atlanta airport was huge, and when we landed, we had to basically speed run to our next gate as our first flight got slightly delayed, and we all wanted to get dinner before we took off for Columbus. I bought a PB&J at a small convenience store since there wasn’t really time for anything else. Soon, we boarded the plane for Columbus, and we took off homeward. Everyone was pretty much either napping or listening to music, and Lily and I were just playing video games on our phones. Soon, the hour had flown by, and we were landing in Columbus. We all grabbed our bags quickly and headed to the parking lot since it was already 9:30 and we were all exhausted. After a short drive, we were back on campus, and I was dropped off back at home.

Overall, I am incredibly thankful and grateful for the amazing experience that conference was! I learned so much, was able to network with companies for my future, and get to hangout and bond with my fellow OSU SWE-sters! SWE has brought me some of my best memories and friendships, and I couldn’t ask for a better support system. I hope you guys enjoyed being in my shoes for a bit, and I’ll see you again soon!

Love, Lydia ❤



Ohio State SWE

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