Peggy: Day 3 Reflections

Today was the last full day of the conference since we’ll be waking up at (or before?) the crack of dawn tomorrow morning to fly back to North Carolina. I was able to sleep in a little more today since the first event started later compared to yesterday; given how intense and tiring this conference has been (though nothing short of amazing), I definitely appreciated the extra hour!

The morning started with a keynote by Anita Young; it’s cool how things have gone full circle since she was also the speaker at the first Grace Hopper Conference! She spoke about the IT revolution, and how unlike previous revolutions, this one is focused as much on personal apps as on infrastructure alone. She also mentioned how the new topic this year was massive open online courses or MOOCs such as Coursera; since I’m taking a peer and academic leadership course that has also discussed MOOCs as a new force of disruptive innovation in education, it was great hearing it mentioned in another situation.

I chose to attend a talk on agile development (“Go Lean, Go Agile – Are we there yet?”). Although agile was briefly discussed by my Software Design professor in the spring, I haven’t had much exposure to it yet, but I’ve frequently heard of it as an important methodology in software development these days and was really interested in learning more. After hearing panelists from several companies, including Mario (an agile coach), I feel like I have a moderately better understanding of agile, and am looking forward to having an opportunity to use it in practice someday.

I returned to the Career Fair for a while to speak to several companies I hadn’t had a chance to speak with yet, and while there, bumped into a friend from another college whom I’d met two summers ago doing CS research! We had lunch together at the food court and caught up on what we were each doing, so meeting her there was a pleasant surprise! After lunch was a plenary talk on Technology Government. Since most of the conference has confused on industry and academia so far, it was interesting to hear from the government perspective and of course about the problems like security that the government confronts.

Then I went to my final two sessions for this conference: “The Future of Online Social Networking” and “Are we ready for the next level yet? Perspectives from junior women in technology” (which talked about career advancement for women, e.g. lower promotion rates compared to men). I had to slip out a few minutes early since I was joining others for dinner.

Dinner itself was an interesting affair – it turned out to be me, another undergrad from Duke, a graduate student from Duke, a professor from Duke, the friend from UMBC, a Stanford professor, and a Stanford student! We ended up eating at a pretty nice restaurant (turns out it was by reservation so we ended up sitting at the bar) – so the food was absolutely delicious!

Last but not least… the RockIT Science and Systers 25th Anniversary Celebration held at Maryland Science Center! We were pretty tired by late evening and didn’t stay very long, but the party was really energetic and everyone looked to be having a great time (in fact, I noticed a few teenage guys on the Harbor trying to crash the party). So many cupcakes and desserts, and free shirts from Google and Microsoft – how will I pack all this swag tonight??

All in all, the past couple of days have been exhausting in the best possible way! I think Grace Hopper was quite an eye-opening experience in seeing how many women are in technology and realizing how large the community really is. I truly had a great time and was really inspired by the people there, and thank all of the sponsors who made this opportunity possible!

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