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Navigating through Grace Hopper Conference Career Fair

The time of year again, when thousands of tech XX chromosomes from all over the world will gather under one roof — Grace Hopper Conference.

I visited the conference last year as a student and can vouch for the role GHC plays in finding a job and getting tech interviews. A lot of you will be looking for jobs and GHC Expo has over thousand companies visiting.

Most of the first time attendees aren’t sure of what to expect and are often instantly overwhelmed by enormity of it. Let’s take a walk through the conference career fair day, the potential hurdles you might encounter and how to make the most of your time there.

Pre-Conference:

Before you go, print tonnes of copies of your resume. If you still fall short of them at the fair, don’t panic; there are many conveniently located printing centers at the conference.
At the check-in, you’ll be given GHC expo guide listing companies attending the conference. You can also find it here. I’d recommend going through the guide beforehand, it will give you a general idea of companies and the roles they’re looking for.

At the conference:

Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Do not skip your breakfast and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

Here’s your step by step guide to navigate the GHC career fair:

Stuff you need: A pen, expo guide, stack of resumes and a friend(optional)

  1. Mark the companies you’re most interested in working for.
  2. You’ll be able to find the booth location in the brochure. Use combination of your favorite Shortest Path Algorithm and Traveling Salesman Problem to draw a mental picture of the path.
  3. Start with the companies you’re interested in, followed by, companies taking interviews at the conference, followed by, companies giving out coolest swags, followed by, the rest of it.
  4. If you’re with a friend, you both should divide the list of companies between two of you. Mostly, there will be an overlap.
  5. Lets say, you both start in the morning. Reach out to different set of companies. Sync up every couple of hours and exchange list of companies handing out interviews.
  6. To prioritize on companies interviewing at the conference, find an overlap of your favorites with Diamond, Platinum and Gold sponsors because they’re only companies GHC provides interview booths. You can find the list of corporate sponsors here.
  7. Make sure you reach out to them first because interview slots are limited.

At the booth:

Be excited about the company. Handout your resume. Give a quick introduction. Talk about coolest projects you’ve worked on. Keep it short and simple. Remember, you have couple of minutes to make an impact and no one has time to listen to your yada yada stories.
Lastly, strikethrough the company name in the list to keep track of your progress.

Post Conference Follow Up:

A lot of companies may ask you to apply online or follow up later. Take a note of that so that you don’t forget later. Be pro active and make sure you follow up within next two days, because if you wait any longer, there might be enough candidates already in the pipeline, people might have already forgotten your face or their inboxes might be overflowing to the point they can no longer keep track.

All the best!

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