The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) National Convention is coming back to Florida for the first time since 2006, and USF students will have their presence felt as they travel to Orlando representing the university and organization.
The convention, being held in person for the first time since 2019, will bring more than 215 SHPE chapters from across the U.S. for a five-day event where engineering students will get to meet with recruiters from companies such as Boeing and Wells Fargo, and participate in workshops on essential skills specific to the field.
The convention is held in a new city each year across the country. Previous locations have included Cleveland, Phoenix and Seattle. This year, however, the convention will be held closer to home, and open the door for even more USF students to experience the networking opportunities and workshops for themselves.
Around 297 USF students will attend the convention, which will take place Nov. 10-14. Members of their university’s chapter have to pay a $350 entry fee while non-members pay $550 to attend the event.
The costs cover the convention’s registration, transportation and a four night stay at a hotel in Orlando. Students planning to attend the event, however, can request financial assistance to cover some of the costs.
Student Government (SG) has distributed $5,600 as a travel grant to 93 SHPE members, according to Jessica Flores, a senior studying chemical engineering and USF’s SHPE chapter director for professional development.
Besides the financial assistance from SG, President of USF’s SHPE chapter Axel Rivera said the organization is also receiving funds from alumni and Honeywell, a multinational conglomerate company which specializes in aerospace, building technologies, performance materials and technologies as well as safety and productivity solutions for workers.
“We have an alumni scholarship that was funded by two alumni that was actually able to cover five registrations,” Rivera said. “We’ve also had a company, Honeywell, they have given us a grant aimed at trying to mitigate some of those costs.”
Even without any help, Rivera said the experience pays for itself through the possibilities it presents. Students have the opportunity to network with more than 276 international companies, including Amazon, Ford, Exxon and Google — and even get a chance to create connections from those interactions through a job or internship offer.
“The really big value proposition that we use to tell our members that it’s worth it is the fact that most of the time, the people that are hiring for internships, co-ops and full time are paid positions,” Rivera said. “So you would be getting your cost of investment many times over.”
The convention helped Rivera land a full-time job at Verizon following his graduation in May of 2022. He said the connections made during the event were key to getting him a job offer.
“I think it was 2018, back in Cleveland, and I was able to get an internship,” Rivera said. “I was going to the conventions and doing internships. I’m in my senior year right now and I actually have a full time offer from Verizon which I got from the convention and interning in the past.”
Now, after a year since the convention was held online, students from across the country will meet in Orlando. Due to its close proximity to campus, Rivera said more USF students will be able to attend.
“I’m sure it’s helping a lot that it’s in Orlando,” Rivera said. “But we’ve really been focusing as an org on campus to get as many people to attend and take advantage of this great opportunity, because it’s definitely not going to be this close for at least the next decade.”
The convention’s location in previous years, according to Rivera, affected their presence. Almost 300 USF students will travel to Orlando for this year’s convention compared to 137 in 2019 and 179 in 2018.
In preparation for the convention, SHPE’s chapter at USF has been organizing workshops focused on resume critiques, mock interviews and elevator-pitch practices.
“We’ve also had speakers come and talk about convention and had panelists from people who have gone to convention,” Rivera said. “So on SHPE’s front, that’s kind of some of what we have been doing to prepare students professionally.”
This preparation, according to Rivera, is designed to help students make connections with companies and better their prospects of getting a job in the future.
“When you apply online, you’re just a number out of thousands of people that apply,” Rivera said. “When you go to a career fair or a conference, and are able to talk to recruiters one on one, it becomes a lot easier for them to remember your name and think of you for future opportunities.”