Wow! What a high I’m still on from the Grace Hopper Conference! I came, I saw, and I conquered 🙂
Who is Grace Hopper?
Grace Hopper is considered a pioneer of computer programming. As a computer scientist and admiral, she invented one of the first compiler related tools which led to the development of a programming language called COBOL. See more about Grace Hopper.
About the Grace Hopper Conference
AnitaB.org hosts annually the Grace Hopper Celebration. It is the largest conference held for Women in Computing/Technologists. This year it was held in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center for 3 days (October 4-6). There were approximately 18,000+ attendees at the conference. There were keynotes, ABIE awards given, sessions/panels, a career fair, and interviews scheduled/completed for job seekers.
About the Grace Hopper Scholarship
This was my first time attending the conference and I had the privilege of being selected as a Grace Hopper Scholar (see badge above at the very top). I was so excited to receive the scholarship, as it is truly competitive. There were somewhere between 15,000 applicants and out of that number 657 applicants were selected. Out of the 657 applicants, 93 identified as Black or African-American and I was one of them. There were over 500 reviewers who selected the scholars. To my knowledge, I am the first African-American graduate student who has received this honor from North Carolina A&T State University. The scholarship provides many amenities including:
- Conference Registration
- Meal Card
I encourage you if you’ve never been to attend the conference and also apply for the scholarship.
What you need to know
Be prepared to walk
I walked anywhere from 5-10 miles each day (way to get in my 10k+ steps)! So when you come to this conference bring your walking shoes and also wear comfortable clothing. Also, you may need a sweater for the sessions and keynotes (a bit chilly at times).
Be prepared to network
At a conference as large as this, be prepared to connect with various people from all walks of life. If you are an introvert and not good at getting out of your shell, practice your elevator speech and make it a point to connect with at least 5-10 people per day. You’d be surprised at who may be from your same hometown, state, have similar research interests, or what you may have in common.
Another reason you need to network is that many companies have receptions each night (some invite only). Take full advantage of these opportunities to engage with their staff and of course to have fun too.
Be prepared to learn
As you attend the keynotes, panels, and sessions be prepared to learn. Bring something to write with as you may want to take notes. There are so many nuggets of wisdom shared during the conference as well as inspirational stories. Also if you have interviews scheduled take notes on what answers your interviewer gives you on all the questions you have. You may want to take notes on any questions you need to better answer for your next interview too. Be engaged and present!
Be prepared to get swag
As you pack your suitcase to attend the conference make sure to leave space for the gifts, door prizes, and the swag that may be raffled or given to you during the conference. My suitcase gained an additional 20 pounds of goodies on my return flight home at the airport. Luckily I had room in my suitcase to bring these goodies home.
Upload your Resume to the GHC database
One way to get interviews scheduled, invitations to company receptions, and or events is to load your resume to the GHC database. I did this and I had so many opportunities at the conference as a result. Check your spam folder occasionally as well. Some of my best invitations got lost in spam so check your spam folder prior and during the conference.
Print out your resume and bring it to the conference
Since this was my first time at the conference I only printed out a few copies of my resume (20 to be exact) and I ran out 😦 I would recommend printing anywhere from 50-100 copies of your resume to give out. One touch that may make your resume stand out is adding a photo. Every company that I handed my resume to was impressed with its appearance and loved the fact that I included a photo (this may help in them remembering you). Check out my resume and cv here: www.siobahncday.com.
Send follow-up emails
At the career fair and along the way during the conference, you will give out or receive many business cards. Make sure to follow up with those people via email and reference the conference and or how you met them. People are very impressed with this and it may gain you an interview, internship, or more.
Lastly, I want to conclude with just to enjoy yourself. You may get overwhelmed at the conference because there is so much going on. That’s normal, however just make sure to be your best self and have fun! Don’t forget to enjoy the moment and take as many pictures, videos, snaps, etc. as you like! Here are a few of my photos from the conference!