SWE Counselors and Faculty Advisor play very important roles in collegiate sections. This blog post highlights the key expectation for these two roles, and give suggestions on how you, your counselor and/or faculty advisor can help bring the section forward.
A SWE counselor should be a professional member, serving as your collegiate section member. Their role is to provide guidance with respect to Society information. Each collegiate section is required to have a SWE counselor, elected annually by your college section and is a member of local professional section of a Region member-at-large (MAL). Your SWE Counselor is a non-voting member. Sections have to update there roster if the SWE Counselor position changes, by emailing email@example.com.
A faculty advisor’s goal is to provide connection between your school and your SWE collegiate section. Even though this position is not required, it is recommended by SWE. This position is chosen either by your SWE section, or the school administration. It is the faculty advisor responsibility to oversees the section and making sure that the section follows all school rules and abides to obligations. The faculty advisor does not have to be a paid member of SWE. Therefore, to maintain proper information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Koenig, a professional region F SWE member with counseling experience is now sharing with you some information regarding the role:
1. For what section(s) were you a SWE Counselor for? From your experience, what do you think was the most important aspect of your role?
I am a counselor for the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). I think that the most important aspect of the role is to prepare collegiate members for SWE beyond their section, whether that be doing an orientation for the annual conference, future leadership possibilities, or SWE beyond college.
2. SWE Counselors usually are not a member of the university where the collegiate section is at. What do you think are the best practices to maintain the connections between the counselor and the section?
I think that the counselor should stay in contact throughout the year by whatever method is best for them- email, phone, in-person, etc. I usually try to attend a couple of the meetings throughout the year (especially ones near the beginning of each semester, where there will be lots of new members), and am on their mailing list/facebook group to keep up with what’s going on with them. I also go out and do a Conference Preparation session, so they are not completely overwhelmed (or unprepared) for their first SWE Conference experience!
3. How can SWE counselor work together with members with sections without stepping on their toes?
I think that the counselor should check in with members and make suggestions based on what they have observed, but ultimately leave it up to the section to decide what is best for them. Hopefully, the counselor and section have such a relationship that it can be a dialogue and discussion.
4. If necessary, do you think is it advisable to combine Counselor / Faculty Advisor Role?
If it is absolutely necessary for a section to be in good standing, the faculty advisor can serve as the SWE Counselor, provided that he or she is a paid SWE member. Something that many collegiate sections don’t realize is that a faculty advisor is NOT required to be a section in good standing in SWE HQ’s eyes, but is often a university requirement. A faculty advisor is important to help the section navigate the college/university requirements of being a student organization, and other university-related things, as well as being an on-site point of contact. A counselor helps connect the student section to industry, and often the larger SWE organization, with information on scholarships, future SWE roles, etc. Sometimes, a section will get lucky and their faculty advisor is also a SWE member (which I find to be a best practice), so the faculty advisor can also be a source of all of this information!
5. For Sections that are newly formed, or in the process of being recognized, what are the first steps of finding a SWE counselor in the area?
A section that is trying to form should first contact the local professional section, as each collegiate section is “assigned” to a professional section. They can assist in polling their professional membership to see if anyone is interested in the area. A section can also reach out to alumni that were involved in SWE and might be interested. There are many counselors who are “long distance” counselors, as there is not a requirement that a counselor needs to come from the section that a collegiate section is assigned to. This is very common in other regions, where the counselor may be several hours from their section (sometimes in a different state). It can be beneficial to have an opportunity for regular, in-person interaction, but is not required!
SWE website contains very helpful information and free webinar that everyone can access for more information and tips. For further questions, you can contact Diane Peters, Society Counselor/Faculty Advisor Coordinator at email@example.com, or leave a comment on this post!