GHC or Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. It is held in the USA and India every year.
I had always wanted to attend it but never got an opportunity. Then came the Women In Tech Learning Program by Rethink Foundation. Arya Murali, the program lead told us that based on the performance and the GHCI application form, five girls would be getting the scholarship to attend GHCI.
Imagine my surprise, when I got a mail on 11 November saying that I was one of those five! I was super excited and happy :)
Day 1 (14th November)— Keynote and Networking
I went to the conference with my senior Pratheeksha Nair, who was awarded the Anita Borg scholarship to attend the same. My first reaction at the conference was “Oh my God! So many women 😍. I already love this conference.”We got our registrations done and were pleasantly surprised to find a backpack full of goodies!
Day one included Keynote Speeches by Lori Beer and Vaishali Kasture.
Lori Beer is the CIO of JP Morgan. She told us to create our own brand. We often underplay our success and attribute it to “luck”. We should be Bold, Confident and Brave. According to her, authenticity, humility and ambition are very important in a person. She suggested listening to tech podcasts, reading up on the current technological news to stay up-to-date. Finally, she said, “Believe in Yourself.”
Vaishali Kasture, who is the co-founder of SonderConnect gave valuable advice too. She emphasised on the art of negotiation, perfecting one’s elevator pitch and how networking is very very important. She also talked about Fitness and how being fit is very important. She says finding our interest and pursuing it is the most important thing. 😃
Day 2(15th November)—Technical talks and Speed Mentoring
I was very excited for Day 2 because it meant I could attend exciting talks about cutting edge technology. I sat in the AI, Machine Learning Track and High-Performance Computing Track till lunchtime. Some of the papers that were presented are “Gender Stereotyping in Bollywood Movies”, “Understanding how a Kalman Filter Works”, “ How the Brain Interprets Content — Latest Advancement in Natural Language Understanding” etc.
After this, I went for the speed mentoring session. On the way to this session, I met Arya and my fellow scholars from the WIT learning program. It was amazing to finally meet them.
At the speed mentoring, a bunch of us were made to sit at round tables. We were assigned a mentor (an experienced career woman) for fifteen minutes. They kept rotating after fifteen minutes. So, in an hour we had 4 women mentor us. We asked them lots of question and got all our doubts cleared. This session was the highlight of GHCI for me because I could interact with them on a personal level.
Next, I headed to the career fair where I started going to booths and gave my resume to the HRs. I couldn’t cover a lot of stalls as it was getting late. I decided to come to the career fair first thing on Day 3.
Day 3(16th November) — Career Fair
I came to the career fair around 9 am. I covered every stall by lunchtime and made lots of new connections, had handed out my resume to lots of people and learnt a lot. After lunch, I roamed around a bit and played games at the booths so that I could collect goodies. 😜
Soon, it was time to leave. GHCI 2018 had ended. I left with a bag full of memories and goodies (literally!). I am looking forward to GHCI 2019.
Tips for students looking to go to GHCI in the future
- Dressing up in formals is not necessary. That doesn’t mean you can wear a T-shirt and shorts or pyjamas. Wear a formal dress, jeans and a formal looking top, salwar kurta and of course proper formals works fine.
- Carry hard-copies of your resumes. Around 10–15. Not more than that!
- Collecting Goodies should not be your main focus. Make connections, network and talk to people. You will learn a lot!
- Have an introduction pitch ready. It should be brief, should cover your experiences, achievements and make you stand out.
- Last but not the least have lots of fun 😄
I will be forever thankful to Rethink Foundation for giving me this opportunity.❤️