This blog post comes from a Computer Science student who recently attended a large conference for women in computing. Jackie shares her daily experiences and thoughts from the conference below!
Grace Hopper is the largest conference for women in computing. I was lucky to attend the event for the second time with Yahoo on a scholarship.
Tuesday Oct. 18
I left for Houston a day earlier than the conference because Yahoo planned a dinner for all the scholarship recipients. On my way to the hotel, I met up with another scholarship recipient because I didn’t want to take an Uber by myself. As soon as we met, we instantly clicked and began to talk like we had been friends forever. At the dinner, I was sort of quiet as I observed all the strangers in front of me. The majority of them were from California, and I didn’t have a lot in common with them regarding how we grew up. If only, I knew I was sitting next to people who would be the best part of my GHC experience.
Wednesday Oct 19
First day of the conference was pretty busy. I rode to the convention center with some scholarship recipients and a Yahoo employee. I splurged and bought a tea from Starbucks to start my morning only to spill it on the floor before I could drink it. I had quite of few interviews ahead of me, but I wanted to make sure I could see the keynote. A dose of inspiration and a confidence boost was exactly what I needed. During the keynote, the winner for the technical leadership ABIE award was announced. Anna Patterson, who is currently the Vice President of Engineering, Artificial Intelligence for Google won the award, and a video was played where people who knew her personally talked about her accomplishments. I had a strange feeling in my heart. A part of me was pitying myself because I would probably never be as successful or make as great as an impact on the world as Anna has. The optimistic, risk-taking side of me suddenly buried those thoughts, and I began to think about what it would take to be that person. I’ve made it this far despite many challenges, I couldn’t help but wonder where I’ll be in a few years. Grace Hopper was beginning, and I was getting exciting because I would never find more opportunities in one place in such a short amount of time anywhere else. I wish I could tell you about all the sessions I went to, but I unfortunately didn’t get to go to any because I had a bunch of interviews. As a college senior without any career plans after school, I don’t think that’s a bad problem to have.
Thursday Oct 20
I spent most of my time in the career expo meeting different companies and interviewing. At this point I was getting pretty exhausted, but my goal was to try to get a job offer from the conference. Yahoo threw a pretty awesome event where employees showed demos of some of the cool technology they were working on. Yahoo employees are seriously some of the coolest people I’ve met. These are the type of people who you can instantly become friends with as soon as you meet them. Everyone is so genuine and honest, which is really refreshing and rare to see. Yahoo hosted a hack event where students could create new projects using some of Yahoo’s technology before the conference. After the demos, we watched the students present their projects. I also met Tumblr’s CEO, David Karp after he gave everyone some insight of his journey with Tumblr.
Friday Oct 21
I went to a speed mentoring session to start my day. I went to the event last year and enjoyed it so I wanted to make sure I went again. I tried to explain my struggle of being a college senior who is completing a computer science degree in 3 years opposed to 4. That’s one less year I could have had an internship or experience in programming. The competition for great jobs in computer science is steep, and I’m at a disadvantage. The response I received wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before.
I spent most of my time with my friends from LSU because I hadn’t really hung out with them the entire conference. I got to catch up on how their interviews went, and I was able to get lunch with them. After lunch we went to the closing keynote. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce started off the keynote. I thought it was interesting how GHC didn’t choose a female CEO to speak at keynote. Female CEOs are still rare, and I would have loved more insight on some on the struggles female executives face. The most powerful part of the keynote was watching the trailer of the new movie, ‘Hidden Figures’. The movie is about the untold story of 3 women at NASA, and their work helped John Glenn become the first astronaut to complete an orbit around the Earth. The movie openly discusses racism and discrimination, but still seems to be pretty humorous. After the trailer ended, the applause was so loud. African American women are still underappreciated today, and my heart was full being in a room with thousands of women appreciating African American women and acknowledging their struggle.
After the keynote GHC threw a party, which was pretty fun. I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave the party alone for safety reasons. So I met up with other Yahoo Scholars and caught an Uber. During the Uber ride, we talked about our struggles being women in computer science, racial discrimination, and discussed some of the topics we heard at GHC with a different perspective. I felt like we were all best friends, and I really did feel safe to finally talk about my feelings. We all enjoyed it so much that we stayed up talking after midnight. They made me feel empowered. GHC 16 was definitely a great experience.
– By Jackie Robinson
Computer Science, Senior
Women in Computer Science