Tutku Headshot

My SWE Experience

“The people you meet are so helpful and the connections you make are incredibly valuable – it is a real accelerator for anyone following a STEM study and career path.”​

What is unique about SWE for those interested in studying or working internationally?

Since my first SWE conference when I was a freshman engineering student – WE Local Europe in Madrid in 2015 – I keep meeting and getting inspired by amazing women from around the world through SWE. Normally as a student in Turkey, I wouldn’t be able to meet such people. However, SWE gives us a platform to reach out to our role models around the globe.

In addition to the WE Local conference, I participated in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) Programme and the Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI) .

The SWEFL Programme helped young students involved with SWE Affiliates around the globe and I attended in 2017 in Austin, TX when I was president of my university affiliate. SWE provided me accommodation with another student president from the University of New Mexico. Although it was only 5 days, I felt like I was in an exchange programme and with my roommate as we shared lots and created some great memories! Through those connections, I still have friends in the US and look forward to meeting them whenever I can, usually at conferences.

Lastly, although SWE is global, it brings people together across Europe and within our home countries, too. Thanks to Karen Ramsey-Idem from Cummins in the US, I met one of the current SWE Global Ambassadors working with her who lived in Turkey. Two months later, I was able to do an internship at the Cummins Turkey office. SWE is unique because the people you meet are so helpful and the connections you make are incredibly valuable – it is a real accelerator for anyone following a STEM study and career path.

Tutku Kılıçaslan

Job Title & Company: Junior Data Scientist, Umicore Corporate R&D

Location: Leuven, Belgium

Nationality: Turkish

Academic Background: Industrial Engineering

Years in SWE: Since 2016 

Tutku (right) with WE18 Conference attendees

“SWE gives us a platform to reach out to our role models around the globe”

How does SWE help your career development with perspectives from the business world and has SWE influenced your educational decisions?

In addition to accessibility to internships at SWE partner companies, the conferences were great for extending my business network and hearing directly from professionals in all kinds of STEM disciplines and industry sectors.

To answer the second part of the question, in my case, SWE really did impact my educational decisions.

When I started university, I was struggling with the engineering courses. As my friends were acing exams, I was barely passing. I was considering working in a more administrative job and I then started my double major degree in Business Administration.

In the meantime though, I was attending SWE meetings in my university and I met lots of engineering students who had been struggling just like me in those first years. I started attending conferences and meeting with successful women from around the world who also experienced confidence problems in engineering. Seeing more women like me, I was encouraged to push myself further and not give up.

Last year, I graduated from Industrial Engineering and Business Administration with a relatively high GPA. This year, I started my degree in a math-heavy Master’s programme in Data Science at one of the best-known universities in Europe – KU Leuven. Wasn’t I scared of this programme and university? I was really having nightmares about failing school before even starting. However, I think of my supportive friends and community in SWE who always remind me to believe in myself and not underestimate what I am capable of.

What additional activities did your local affiliate offer and how did it help you to get involved with SWE?

f ae c cMy experience during with my local SWE affiliate during my bachelor studies at Koç University was full of learning, breaking gender biases, and raising awareness among students in the campus.

My favourite event there was SWENext where we aimed to introduce STEM fields to high school students. I was an organizer and instructor in that event and I met with all the girls in the programme. I still keep in contact with these SWENext girls and I witnessed their career journey as their mentor. It was really fulfilling for me. 

Additionally, each year we attended the WE Local conferences around Europe with the support of my university and the SWE Affiliate. Through those conferences, I was not only hanging out with our members, but also professionals from partner companies of SWE, learning about how they operate, their innovations and career opportunities. 

Want to hear from more SWE members?


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The council’s work encourages more women into technical and leadership roles, and exchanges best practices on DEI&B in engineering and technology. Learn more about SWE’s corporate partnerships.

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