Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A conference report....

Scholarship Winners @ Facebook offices before heading to Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper
For those of you who don't know, there is a conference that takes place every year called the "Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing." It's a little bit of a mouth full, but nonetheless an amazing opportunity.

I've had the good fortune of winning a scholarship this year to attend the conference. A resume submission and 2 short essays later, I received an email from a Facebook recruiter titled "Congratulations!" The scholarship includes a two days of networking/ mentoring workshops and tech talks at the Facebook NY office prior to the conference, a food stipend, travel and lodging accommodations, and of course, registration for the conference.

My time in NYC was amazing. Sunday night a bus picked up all of the scholarship recipients to go see Mama Mia! on broadway. It was an awesome night, I have been to the city over a dozen times, but never seen a broadway show.

Monday: Facebook in the big apple
We had scheduled events starting at 9am. It wouldn't be a complete NY experience without Lox & Bagel for breakfast, so that's exactly what Facebook provided. We ate and chatted, and slowly woke up. The next few hours were filled with tech talks, mentoring workshops, and interview workshops. After those were all said and done, we were given boxed lunches and given a generous 5 hours of free time before attending a mixer at the Facebook office catered by a Bravo TV chef.

Tuesday: trip to baltimore
We once again woke up early, this time at 8am (I'm starting to see a trend) to get on a charter bus to drive to Baltimore for the conference.  I would say 80% of the girls (and women) passed out on the bus from the early hours, and the packed schedule the day prior. After we arrived in Baltimore, the rest of the day was free time.

Wednesday: the start of the conference
Registration began at 7am, which is the earliest to date that we've had to get up. My sister and I decided to sleep in and register later to avoid the early-bird lines. This was a mistake, because it turned out most people had the exact same idea as us. After we were finally able to get our name tags (and giant bag of swag I might add), we started going to workshops. Workshops such as "Finding your dream job," "Graduate school survival skills," and "how to influence without authority and why it is important" led by leading women in the industry, filled the day. There are several breaks of course, complete with snacks and coffee.

In addition to the workshops, the conference comes jam packed with a career fair with more than 40 companies in attendance, mentoring sessions, special dinners with companies, and interviews onsite with most companies.  I'm sitting on one of the many comfortable couches scattered around the convention center, waiting for the next round of workshops to begin. As I look around me, I see a lot of girls just like me, with their laptops coding or watching videos, and others just chatting-- and it makes me smile. I can't wait to see what the rest of the conference has to offer.

Regardless of what major you are, I highly recommend that you attend a relevant conference at some point. It's a great opportunity to meet people who share your passions, play hooky (I mean take a break) from school, and have a lot of fun!

Want to know more about Grace Hopper?  Contact us at awe@seas.upenn.edu

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