My first day at the Grace Hopper Conference initially left me confused. On one hand, the conference excited me: here, in Baltimore, was amassed thousands of passionate female computer scientists–all ready to educate and learn from each other. On the other hand, the conference intimidated me: these female computer scientists were leaders and executives of their field–and I, a college sophomore, had only taken one semester of computer science. My feelings of intimidation reached a climax when we entered Hall D, where the GHC Career Fair was to take place. Seeing so many recruiters from Google, Yahoo, Apple (all the biggest companies, essentially) made me think of how many qualified applicants were at the conference. I wondered what I would have to do to be competitive for those internships and jobs.
My first day at the conference ultimately left me, however, feeling inspired more than anything else. Sure, I felt inadequate in the skills and experiences I had accumulated in my single semester of computer science. But when I looked at the big picture, it was one that induced hope. The recruiters had come to GHC, after all, because they knew how many accomplished women computer scientists would be there. And these thousands of accomplished women scientists were available to us Duke students precisely because we were at the conference. By seeing what they had done to become so accomplished, I could motivate myself to become a better computer scientist.
All in all, it was a great first day. The lectures I attended were all helpful in some way–from how one should write a resume to the graduate school experience. When I went to bed, I felt far more knowledgeable about computer science than I had at the start of the day.