GHC 2016 in Review
This year, I was lucky enough to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing in Houston, Texas; thanks to a generous sponsorship by WiCS and the Cheriton School of Computer Science.
To any female students contemplating this experience, I highly recommend it! This is especially true for the students of the university of Waterloo since we have a passionate group of organizers who encourages the involvement of first timers. Here is a summary of my experience:
Keynotes and talks
Let’s start with the keynote. You get a good mix of well seasoned women in the industry (such as the CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty or the CTO of the United States, Megan Smith) as well as up and coming new faces with many accolades already under their belt. It is an applaud to the history of women in technology but also a voice of wisdom to those who only started their career. The speakers managed to make their talk short, raw, and empowering. Yet one element remain constant: a tribute to the amazing work of women in computing.
As for panels, I personally loved the presentation on industrial animation from Walt Disney and the talk on Social Analysis for Entrepreneurship from World Bank. However, everyone has different tastes and I highly recommend going to the panels you are the most interested in… the level of diversity is amazing and you will have fun exploring the many fields :).
The career fair is the main event of this conference, at least for all the undergraduate students out there. As a Canadian, it is also the first time I get so much exposure to Top CS companies and US internship opportunities. All of this can be very intimidating, but it didn’t have to be. Just be yourself and know the recruiters are as eager to meet you as you are to talk to them. The anxiety I experienced in the first two hours disappeared in the afternoon and I was able to go into deeper conversation with the companies. I got to talk to more people, some very interested in my candidature; others nice enough to give free swags. The interviews are not as stressful as one would expect, so just enjoy the experience :). Don’t put yourself into too much pressure and know you still have next year to make a good impression!
My suggestion is to go to the career fair early since a lot of interviews are given on the first day and the cool swags may run out later. However, if you want a longer and more casual talk, afternoon are really nice. I prioritized going to the panels and went to the career panel whenever I had a break. A good balance between morning sessions and afternoon sessions will let you take a break and recharge yourself.
I was also able to go to the MasterCard networking event and Intuit’s Data Decoded panel. Both have been really fun and you get to learn more about the company in a more intuitive and engaging way. They will also remember you the next day at the career panel. I strongly suggest going to the evening events if you get an invitation 🙂
Swags are random stuffs companies offer to promote their business and I was able to pick some really cool stuffs. I want to give a quick shout out to my favourites:
- Google’s tote bag (well designed and definitely something you can use for a long time)
- Two Sigmas’ EightbyEight Blinky nametag (so pretty and perfect for parties or concerts)
- MasterCard’s battery charger (I used it everyday during GHC and the quality is amazing)
- StubHub’s cardboard VR (very excited to try them again, the recruiters were super nice too!)
- Miscellaneous: Jane Street’s candy jar, Oscar Insurance’s water bottle, and so many comfy t-shirts. (I didn’t get one, but I heard Cisco was giving out customized T-shirts!)
If you felt inspired during the conference and you don’t want those feelings to fade away, remember to send out emails to the people you talked to days after the conference. This is a great opportunity so don’t get lazy, especially if you are looking for an internship/research opening!
Finally some tips to all first time Hoppers:
- Go early to the Career Fair
- Bring a notepad to the panels and keep a battery charger in your bag
- Wear business casual or something you are comfortable in (jeans, sneakers)
- State you are from Canada (this is important for the recruiters! And don’t worry since a lot of recruiters know the university of Waterloo)
- Don’t be shy!
Next year, the conference is said to welcome 18K attendees in Orlando, Florida. This seems like an amazing opportunity and I hope new students will get to experience it 🙂
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