The balance point between work, down-time and life responsibilities is constantly changing, but women must be prepared to find an equilibrium as they advance in their careers. That’s the message a panel of seven leading women in information technology shared with 75 students during the Center for the Management of Information System’s annual Women in Information Technology conference.

Though IT workers can expect more flexible work schedules, you have to earn flex-time by first proving you can work hard, said the top IT executives from ConocoPhillips, Dell and Texas Instruments who gathered in February.

“I have to let everybody know that this is my life and there’s going to be peak times at work when I’m there at all hours,” said Kim Harrison, project execution manager for Texas Instruments’ enterprise applications wing. “But there’s also going to be times when I’ve got to get home and have dinner with my son before his bedtime.”

Panel members stressed prioritizing work tasks — because, says Dell’s Global IT Director Aga Webb, you can’t tune out of a meeting like you sometimes can in college classes.  They also stressed life-long learning skills to keep your mind refreshed and always having some “me” time, whether that’s a hobby or work-out time.

The Women in IT forum encourages female students to pursue a career in the IT field by sharing the opportunities and rewards in the industry. It also provides women in the IT industry a forum for networking and developing mentoring relationships. Students spent the day sitting side-by-side with corporate IT representatives and discussed real-life issues in workshops.

The Center for the Management of Information Systems and conference sponsors Dell, ConocoPhillips and Texas Instruments also sponsored five scholarships for student participants, randomly chosen from among the attendees. Those winners are: Dinara Yunusova, Elizabeth Gillespie and Tiffany Seaman from Mays and Paviflle Benson and Erin Jones from Prairie View A&M.