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WTS-Boston Emerging Professional 2016 Program Recap

By Gonul Duren, MassDOT Highway Design

2016 has been a great year for me, both personally and professionally. The latter was achieved by tackling exciting projects at MassDOT Highway Design, and by becoming part of a wonderful organization called WTS-Boston. I joined WTS with the encouragement of my supervisor, Lyris Liautaud. Together we went to several luncheons where I met bright men and women who all cared deeply about advancing women in transportation. With that inspiration and further reassurance from Lyris, I applied to become a part of the 2016 WTS-Boston Emerging Professional (EP) Program. The results have been most gratifying. I am more motivated in my career in transportation than ever, have more confidence in achieving my professional goals, and –most importantly- I have acquired a network of amazingly supportive women. I owe the Mentoring committee leadership, Allison Sweeney, Susan Nichols, & Paula Simmons, a lot for giving me their vote of confidence.

Being a MassDOT employee, I do not get reimbursed for professional organization affiliations such as WTS membership & attending its events. These can be quite difficult to afford on a 20-something budget, especially when you are not positive whether  the investment will be as rewarding as you had wished. Since the EP program enabled me to attend nearly all the events and to be a committee volunteer without a fee, I now know what I would be missing out on without this program. I am so glad I didn’t! From hearing inspirational speeches from top industry leaders at luncheons to discussing TED-talks with other members around a table, this experience has solidified my belief that inspiration is key for motivation.

Laurie Leshin selfie

As another perk of the program, each EP is assigned to a mentor whom they have to meet with at least twice within the year. I was very lucky since my mentor, Shahpar Negah, and I both work at MassDOT and also on the same floor- therefore we had many chances to spontaneously catch up as well.  Shahpar has been instrumental in my professional growth over the past year. At each of our meetings we brainstormed over the pros and cons of my future career options. I am very big on having a strategical plan when it comes to career goals, so being matched with a WTS member with such similar mindset as my mentor has been quite rewarding.

Additionally, the program requires EPs to become members of a committee. I chose the Communications Committee since I previously had a similar role and enjoyed it a lot. Co-chairs of the group, Lisa Jacobson & Kim Sousa, have been extremely helpful in teaching me the required skills for helping out with WTS-Boston’s social media accounts and weekly email blasts. As a consequence, I am always up to date with the happenings of WTS-Boston. I hope to keep volunteering in the group throughout 2017 as well and contribute to its growth as much as I can. In conclusion, I am very grateful for the opportunity that WTS-Boston has extended to me. I suggest all eligible women to apply when applications are open again, since this experience has truly been a transformative milestone in my short career in transportation.



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