Mary-Emily: The Grace Hopper Convention

The Grace Hopper Convention

A Big Thanks to the Duke University Computer Science Department, Yahoo Women

The Grace Hopper Convention for Women in Computing was an experience unlike any other. Before departing for the conference in Baltimore, I thought I had grasped the concept behind the three day conference.
However, upon my arrival I was blown away by how massive and how amazing the whole experience was.

The convention center was bustling with women of all ages and races. I really only ever saw a handful of men for the entirety of the conference. The way the convention was laid out was that there were a multitude of talks categorized under certain paths while there was an ongoing career fair. Since I must keep this blog at a respectable
length, I am going to talk about three different kinds of experiences I was able to get out of the conference, a traditional seminar, a lunch time table talk, and the career fair.

One session that I went to that I found to be really awesome and out of the box was called the Secrets to Success: in the style of Glee by Jennifer Marsman. Jennifer Marsman is a developer evangelist for Microsoft. Here are the ten songs she played for us and the point she derived from each one.

Speak Now By Taylor Swift
Her main point with this song was to be vocal! If your in meetings or even an interview it is important to use your voice to illustrate your ideas. It is never a bad idea to ask questions because it helps propel the group forward. She even went as far as to say that in an interview (especially with Microsoft) never stop talking! It shows your passion
and enthusiasm.

Let’s Give them Something To Talk About By Bonnie Raye
The main point of this song was to always let your supervisors know where you are standing in a specific project and what progress you have made. As an employee, communicating whatever you are working on or whatever you find useful is key to the company’s success. Give your manager of supervisor something to say or talk about when their boss
asks them!

This song was to remind everyone to take a humble approach. Be confident in yourself but never forget that every single person around you is smarter at something than you. Diversity is important because different people think differently and therefore you get a multifaceted result that can take on more obstacles. Therefore,
respect everyone around you because they can only help you learn something new.

Luck Be a Lady By Frank Sinatra
Someone once said that success = hard work + intelligence + luck. Unfortunately, the luck element is sometimes true. If you work your hardest and did your best at a certain task and you did not get what you wanted out of it, then blame luck! Don’t get discouraged just think that you were not lucky this time and you will be next time! However, if there is a stream of ‘bad luck’ then maybe it is you? See what you can improve to improve your luck.

Be Prepared By Lion King
Being prepared will always help you be more successful, Fact-base Reasoning is always better than out of the blue statements with no basis.

Wind Beneath My Wings
Mentors and role models are essential! Role models are from afar and mentors are the ones to help you drive your career. In turn, you must either speak or blog! Pay it forward and become someone else’s future mentor.

I Love You Always and Forever By Donna Lewis
You must always love what you do! Find your niche or whatever it is you enjoy mots in the tech industry whether it be artificial intelligence of hacking. If you love what you do you will get excited every day to be working and therefore you won’t actually be ‘working’.

Oops I did it again By Britney Spears
Making mistakes is part of getting to your destination. If you make a mistake it is okay! Learn from every mistake. They are not worthless. For example, interviews. If you mess one up completely, that’s okay. You can learn from your stumbling around and develop a better way. Take big risks! If you fail, it will still be worth it.

Lean on Me By Bill Whithers
You are going to need support to be successful. You can look at life in three categories: Time, Health, Money. At one time, you can pick two. In response to this life view, optimize and outsource. Make trade-offs for what you don’t have. Try and balance your life. Your support system will make this possible.

Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
Believing in yourself! Do not let the imposter syndrome get to you! The imposter syndrome is when you feel as if you are faking it and one day someone is going to figure out that you are not that smart. This is just your self-conscious speaking! You must always remember that you got yourself to the place you are today. Never leave your self-confidence behind because it can be your greatest asset!

I really appreciated this talk and everything I learned from it. I feel the main thing I loved so much about it was that it managed to outline the ten most important things without forgetting to have fun. I think that this approach should definitely be taken towards any career and will help you become successful. I noted immediately the enthusiasm and quirkiness of Jennifer. I could immediately pick up on how passionate she was about what she was talking about. You could easily tell that she was really enjoying being at the conference and that she was having a great time letting us in on her ideas. As a result, I decided to participate in another particular characteristic of the conference called Table Talks.

In the convention center, they had set up about forty tables or so for everyday at lunch. Each table was numbered and had a specific person and topic for every lunch. I loved the fact that after hearing Jennifer’s talk, I could easily go and sit for her table talk with her. The tables were filled after ten participants arrived, and I was able to sit in an intimate setting and pick at Jennifer’s brain right after the session. The table I was sitting at had a wide range of women. There were a couple teachers and students. Our topic was on gaming and the virtual world. When Jennifer sat down, she pretty much just let us fire off some questions. She let us in on a handful of gaming creating websites and even pulled out her Microsoft surface to show us how they worked. This was probably my favorite part of the conference because I was immediately able to make a connection with a speaker I had really enjoyed. The learning did not stop after the session. The conference made it so easy and accessible to have a personal conversation. I also
immediately learned some awesome new tools on a topic I knew very little about. This idea contributed to the whole theme that every second I was at the conference I was experiencing another part of the tech world.

A third and final aspect of the conference I felt was pretty amazing was the career fair. I have been to a handful of fairs and have never seen such an immense one. After three days, I felt I still had not exhausted all the resources of the fair. All the major companies were present such as Google, and Microsoft to not so obvious ones as major banks. It was very easy to go up to any booth and interact with their recruiters. Whether you were looking for an internship or just to learn more. I especially felt I learned a lot at the fair because some companies put you to the test right there. When I went up to Amazon, they asked me a technical question immediately. I was asked to find the duplicate integer in an unsorted array of integers. At first I completely froze. Then after a second of thinking out loud, the recruiter handed me a pen and paper and let me illustrate the way I would go about it. After successfully showing a
working program – woo! – the recruiter then asked the run-time. I was able to semi get the right answer from this question. In the end, I got an awesome sweatshirt from answering the question right and some real life pressure tech question.

Not only were the three days filled with free swag, but also I felt as if this conference was an experience of full on learning. This was out of the classroom learning to the fullest. It helped with not only creating a supporting community of women in the tech industry but also helped with some career questions that were not obvious to me. I
discovered possible career paths that I did not know previously existed and ways to achieve them. I find that this conference really affirmed my desire to be a part of the tech industry and also strengthened it.

Wynne: Reflection (Issues)

Hello all,

I promised you a post on problems with the conference, so here it is after a few weeks.

The conference occurs during the weekdays, which for students, takes time out of group projects and classes (this is why I’m so late in posting). I’m sure there are a lot of other women in the work force who would be happy to go, but smaller companies are probably hesitant to send them to the conference in the middle of a project.

Like some people noted, a lot of the conference was on big data and job/internships. As someone interested in healthcare, I would like to see more technical companies in healthcare. As for jobs and internships, this is very intimidating for someone looking for a job and does not feel qualified. Sure there is the imposter syndrome, but really, going to the career fair, most people are going to judge their applicants by how much experience they have.

Its hard to get out of your comfort zone. I was fortunate to start out meeting people already out of their comfort zone, so I got to meet more people. But really, if you only talk to them for a small amount of time and then get their contact information, how likely are we to remember them in one year? How likely are they to remember you? especially the Microsoft, Google, or Amazon people? Also, I had difficulties with the contact sharing part of the Grace Hopper App, so I awkwardly ended up having to type in peoples names into my phone.

You know, one of the important parts of the conference was the sessions. For around 37,000 women, a lot of the sessions were more than half empty. Many women were focused on the career fair. Others were taking advantage of the city. My question here is why are they not attending the sessions? Is there a way to make them more interested in the sessions? Is it possible that making a time slot for people to explore the city (like give them a task in the city) would be beneficial?

So this was a small bit of the issues I faced or saw. Please comment! Thank you for reading all the way through. Have a wonderful day!


Lalita: Thank you GHC

I applied to go to GHC with Duke because I wanted to learn more about the tech world and I would have to say it was the right decision. The GHC helped me become more confident about my qualifications but also showed me that I have a lot of work to do to stay competitive in the tech world. Since I recently decided that I wanted to pursue CS I still do not know what aspect of CS excites me the most  and I have been very nervous about that. However, GHC had very helpful sessions like speed mentoring where I met several women who offered advice about how I can find my niche in the tech world. Also,  the Career Fair provided tangible examples of what my role in CS can be.


Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. GHC has been a very helpful and memorable experience!

Zanele: Reflections

Attending Grace Hopper was all at once exciting, exhilarating and intimidating. When faced with really successful peers, you have two choices. You can cower in fear at their awesomeness, or you can learn by example. Grace Hopper gave me an awesome opportunity to learn by example. It also helped me to realize that I had been approaching my computer science education in the wrong way. I am aiming to become more of an innovator and less of a follower in both my classes, and my independent projects.

Aleis: Day 4 (Reflections)

Right now I’m on the plane ride home. Typing out all of the things we’ve done has made me realize what an event this really was. Also, I don’t know if these blog posts really capture the underlying theme and constant feeling of the convention – pure, raw, inspiration. Every single girl there had some awesome project they are working on, or some great accomplishment they have achieved, or some ingenious idea just waiting to be put into action. I feel confident I could have talked to any girl there (which I tried to do often) and had an intelligent, inspirational conversation. Women or not, these people were just incredible and it was wonderful being among them. This is an incredible convention and I fully support it – I’m sure next year will be just as awesome! If you think you might want to go, I would definitely recommend considering it – at the very least you’ll get some pretty cool free t-shirts!

Xu: GHC 2012

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!

Hailey: Final Thoughts

I’ve been wearing my Google t-shirt around campus, and people keep asking me where I got it. So I tell them I just got back from the Grace Hopper Conference. When they ask what I did there, I realize I don’t know what to tell them because there’s too much to tell. Should I talk about the great interviews I got just for showing up at a booth? Describe all the different things I learned at all the presentations? Talk about networking? I can’t possibly describe it to them in a five minute conversation. GHC was a fantastic experience for me. I now feel much more confident, especially about my prospective future jobs. I would recommend GHC to any girl who is even considering a technical career.


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.

~Wynne Lok