After I got settled in my hotel room, I decided to start my day at Grace Hopper by attending a few workshops. When we got there we checked in and received a bag full of great freebies from many of the companies at Grace Hopper. The first workshop I went to focused in on creating a tech specific resume. This was pretty helpful because it stressed resume pointers that I do not usually pay much attention to. The other workshop was also tailored to searching for a job/internship. My biggest take away from this workshop was to make sure I always have the best web presence and to always push myself to network.
My first day at Grace Hopper was a bit of a whirlwind. I woke up late, and took a taxi to the airport, where luckily my flight was delayed. Once we arrived, it was immediately time to go to the conference. Before arriving at the conference, I had been working on my resume for the past month. So, when our first seminar was about creating a technical resume, I immediately knew that this would be an awesome experience. Being around so many successful women was a great opportunity to get applicable advice. That night was the opening of the career fair. It was at once overwhelming and exciting. I had never really considered working for a corporation, and had always figured I would go into working for a nonprofit or do research. However, going to the conference opened my eyes to the many different opportunities that companies can offer graduates. From company to company the experiences seemed unique, and I realized that the overarching word “industry” is actually a collection of really unique companies.
It’s hard to believe we fit so much into the first day, especially since our flight was delayed so our really didn’t get to the convention until the afternoon.
When we first got there we all registered. We each got our own name badge and a massive bag of free stuff. I had to hurry off and put up my poster. (You can sign up to presentation a poster in the poster session here [link] – highly recommended!) After that we grabbed some food from the “meal hall” (which really only had one restaurant open, but it had pretty decent options – I split a veggie burger with one of the other girls in our group). After eating we walked around a bit to get a feel for the building (it’s huge!) and then decided to stop by our hotel to drop off some of our stuff and take a quick nap. (We had gotten up at 7 after all.)
We headed back to the convention just in time for the career fair, which was awesome. Microsoft, Google, Intel, IBM, Facebook, Twitter – all of the big companies, along with some pretty cool but lesser known companies, were there, set up, trying to recruit us. Talking to the recruiters was super chill – they didn’t drill us on linked lists or anything. Everyone was just happy to be there and talk to each other about how awesome everything is and all of the opportunities we all have, both in their company and in general. And so much free stuff! And free food! (Good food, too, not just cereal bars or anything.)
Poster presentations were from 7:15 to 10, the same time as the career fair. Luckily my sister and I were able to trade off manning the poster while the other explored the fair and grabbed a box dinner. The poster presentations were also very chill – people just walked around and asked about the poster and our project, and we would tell them about it and answer their questions. Everyone was very supportive and excited about everything.
By the time we got back to our hotel we were exhausted and pretty much passed out as soon as our heads hit our pillows.
The GHC conference was the biggest tech fair I could ever imagine, and getting to talk to so many women successful in a tech career was a huge inspiration. The first day was very eventful. After dropping off our stuff at the hotel, my roommate and I attended our first presentation of the day, which was an info session on how to write a tech resume. The session was really helpful, especially because the presenters shared plenty of their own experiences. Throughout the conference, I also attended several other presentations, including one on Big Data and its potential usefulness in different industries, and one on cloud security.
The career fair was arguably the most prominent part of the conference. A good portion of companies in the tech world was there (and those whose name you and I can recognize are definitely present). I was pleasantly surprised to find several finance firms there. As a economics (finance) and computer science double major, working as a tech analyst at a finance firm seems like a great way to combine my interests. I spent a good amount of time talking to several of these firms to get a good idea of what the job would be like and the kind of candidates they were looking for. Even though most of the firms were looking for juniors for their internship programs, it was still a very fruitful experience as it taught me what I should work on as a junior and also gave me a better idea of which specific kind of tech jobs I would like.
I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the Duke CS department, the school of engineering, yahoo! and all who contributed funds for the trip. Also, a big thank you to our wonderful professors who took such good care of us throughout this memorable experience!
We flew up to Baltimore in the morning and checked into our hotels. Since not everybody from Duke was on the same flight and staying at the hotel, it took a little longer to sort out the logistics. On the bright side, our room at the Sheraton is really nice, and the hotel is under a ten-minute walk from the Baltimore Convention Center where the Grace Hopper conference is being held.
Even in the hotel lobby where we were waiting, I started to notice women carrying the blue Grace Hopper conference bag for this year, and the numbers only increased as we headed to the BCC in the afternoon. Although I knew there would be over 3000 attendees so the attendance wasn’t necessarily a surprise, it was still remarkable to see so many women, from students to industry representatives to professors. It was really exciting to finally register and receive my Grace Hopper bag and name tag!
After lunch with a few other Duke students at the food court, we decided to attend a panel talk called “How to Optimize Your Job Search” together. All in all, it was pretty good, although I personally felt that the emphasis for most of the concrete tips revolved around LinkedIn and networking, and I would have liked to hear more about, say, websites or events to be on the lookout for when career searching.
On my way down an escalator later, I accidentally bumped into a woman who I assumed was a college professor attending the conference – it turns out that she was the conference director, oops!
My evening was spent at the Career Fair, which included practically every large tech company I could think of as well as numerous graduate school programs from universities across the country. It was honestly a little overwhelming and intimidating at first, but after visiting several booths, I began to feel more comfortable speaking with recruiters and engineers alike and coming up with questions that I wanted to ask. I had an interview with one company that I had set up prior to arrival, but enjoyed having the rest of the time to learn more about different companies and of course, collecting some free swag!
About Me: I’m a junior at Duke majoring in Computer Science and Economics. This was my first (and hopefully not last) time attending the Grace Hopper Conference.
After a long morning of travel, arriving to Baltimore was quite a relief. I was so excited to finally be at the conference. The first session of the conference I attended was “How to Optimize your Job Search.” At first I was a little skeptical about attending this session considering I am only a sophomore, but it proved to teach me a great deal more than what I expected. The women in the panel discussed everything from networking to what they look for in an interview. I made sure to take plenty of notes during this session and used all of the tips they gave for the remainder of the conference. When I went to the career fair later in the week I felt completely prepared and continued to look back on my notes from the session to make sure I appeared confident and prepared.
I also attended the “Latinas in Computing Reception” in the evening. This was a great networking experience for me. I met latina women that worked for MasterCard, Microsoft and a woman looking for latina women to fill summer internship positions in Silicon Valley! I met other students from all over the country and stayed connected with them throughout the remainder of the conference. The women that organized the WURG (Women of Underrepresented Groups) track really put a great deal of effort into making us feel comfortable and providing us with information on not only problems faced by women, but women of color as well. These sessions, dinners and lunches were some of my favorites at the conference.
My GHC experience got off to an interesting start when the woman sitting next to me in the airport suddenly revealed herself as a recruiter. After my heart had started again and I had played back my last few minutes of conversation to see if I’d said anything stupid, other Duke GHC attendees and I engaged in a lengthy conversation with the woman about what she looks for in an interview and what the biggest resume mistakes are. I boarded the plane feeling as if I’d already learned more than expected, and we weren’t even in Baltimore yet!
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.
My fellow Duke mates were unable to attend the welcome ceremony this morning. What they missed was the message that I got today at GHC: collaboration.
In my mind, there are companies that are competitors in certain fields; however, here at the conference, they unite for women.They unite to be role models for us students. They unite to teach and inform the new women in the field who will later become role models.
At my scholarship lunch, I sat with someone from Google who was one of the founders of Systers. She stated that “women, rather than view meeting people as networking, see it more as connecting” (this was summarized). I don’t know about you, but I agree with her. Unlike the severe and cut-throat feeling I get from the Duke career fairs, the women at GHC feel more open to discussion and supportive.
In the field itself, it was fun to see how my psychology classes can be applied or were used in some of the research that I heard during the break-out sessions. For example, one research on which diagrams were best to display information directly ties to my Health Communication class, which tries to ensure the public (the illiterate, numerically, textually, or health-wise) understands the message being delievered. Knowing that Euler ellipse diagrams are better for readers can be used when demonstrating the probabilities such as dying of a disease.
I have to say, I’m glad to see some guys at the conference and to meet a few that have gone for a few years. To me, it paints a picture that “hey, yes this conference says it’s for women, but men are welcome to come and join us in our celebration.” What better way is it to show the men how to interact with us than to openly invite them to see our world?
There was breaking the ice yesterday and collaboration today. I look forward to finding out what tomorrow brings.
We are a group of undergraduate women attending Duke University who, with the help of the Computer Science Department, will be attending the Grace Hopper Conference 2012 at Baltimore, Maryland. Please read to follow our various thoughts and experiences during our days at the conference.