On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, the inaugural N.E.W. (Nontraditional Employment for Women) Workshop Fort Wayne occurred at Indiana Tech. This event was formed by Megan Crites, an architect at MKM architecture + design, who has participated for several years at a similar event in the Warsaw area. Seeing the impact this type of outreach has had on female students, a committee was formed to bring this powerful opportunity to Allen County students.
Crites stated that "The basis of the event is to expose students to future career opportunities that they may not have otherwise heard of or learned about due to them being non-traditional for females." The workshop convened female sophomores from area high schools and introduced them to women working in nontraditional female careers, both professional and in trades, such as manufacturing, technology, architecture, welding, agriculture, truck driving, and more. The event familiarized these young women with the training or education needed to enter these fields, and the opportunities and successes possible in these traditionally male-dominated areas.
The N.E.W. Workshop partnered this first year with FWCS and had 110 female sophomores bussed to Indiana Tech on Tuesday for the day-long event. The students had the chance to have conversations with a variety of speakers during the morning round-table conversations. Lunch featured keynote speaker Terra Brantley, discussing her professional experience in the field of journalism. In the afternoon, the young women experienced hands-on activities, created by the speakers that were related to their professions, during a “Try It!” session. And finally, the students listened in on a panel discussion with speakers whose professional work has had a social impact.
Megan Grimes, another MKM employee and N.E.W. Committee Member, said that "seeing the students really get into the discussions and hands-on activities was the most rewarding feeling. They were curious. They were excited. They were engaged all the way through. While they may not realize it right away, the experience is massive for them as young women, and it really encourages them to explore all career possibilities to make the best decisions for their futures."
The event was free for the students with generous donations from Indiana Tech, American Electric Power, NIPSCO, American Association of University Women, Eastern Engineering, Grote Automotive, Out of a Jam, Start Fort Wayne, The Hedge, and The Narwhal & the Manatee. The N.E.W. Workshop plans to run every year and to expand to all Allen County high schools.