My experience at the Grace Hopper Conference

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Computer Science Senior Encourages Students to ‘Stay With It’

Jackie RobinsonRising computer science senior Jacqueline Robinson recently wrapped up her first full semester as a squad member for Intel’s Stay With It Engineering program.

As a squad member, Robinson said she spent the past eight months “promoting any initiatives the program hosted.”

“We also try to maintain an active social media presence to showcase our journeys of becoming engineers to inspire those who follow us,” she added.

The program, an online community in which engineering students can engage with each other and share engineering related content and support, was first introduced to Robinson through her participation with LSU’s student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Robinson, who is from Slidell, Louisiana, said she was attracted to the program because of its potential for international impact.

“Many on-campus programs and initiatives are much more local to the organization members or the LSU community,” she said. “This program has a much larger focus. The organization’s purpose is to encourage students from all over the world.”

The Stay With It Program is free for anyone to join. The program has a strong social media presence, which is mostly active on Facebook, according to Robinson. She encourages fellow students to check out the program’s Facebook page.

“Some people use it when they need help with homework. You can also use it to reach out and see if there is another student or professional who is currently doing something you want to do,” Robinson said. “If you are concerned about something or struggling to get past an obstacle, you can reach out on Facebook to see if anyone else has advice on a similar problem.”

The program’s main website also hosts a blog that offers advice on topics like how to land an internship, resume templates for first time job seekers, informative videos about the diversity of the field and other engineering resources—all free of charge for its members.

Robinson said her role is centered on being the liaison between college students and the industry.

“While I don’t plan events, the insight I submit about our concerns of being engineering students and what we would like to see in the industry is important,” she said. “During my time with the program, I worked with others to launch a Stay With It Women group because we felt that addressing the gender gap was important.”

In addition to being a member of NSBE and attending Association in Computing Machinery (ACM) events, Robinson is a founding member of Women in Computer Science (WICS) at LSU. Through her involvement with these various organizations, she said, she’s gained better perspective on her chosen field and received the necessary tools to sharpen existing skills and cultivate new ones.

Robinson said the Stay With It program “impacted her socially,” and allowed for some relief from the anxiety that often accompanies entering the engineering field for the first time.

“A lot of the fear of graduating and entering the industry is attributed to low confidence and feeling unprepared,” she said. “Students seeing videos of other students and professionals make you feel inspired and more prepared.”

Robinson also said the program features a mentorship component that allowed her to grow closer with professionals and industry representatives in her field.

“I have received a lot of advice from the coordinator of the program, Rhonda Peters James,” she said. “I learned how to analyze my skills in engineering and how to properly market my talent.”

With eight months as a Stay With It squad member behind her, Robinson plans to begin her senior year this fall as an active member of the online support community of engineering students.

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For more information on the Stay With It program, visit http://staywithit.org/, or check out their Facebook page. For questions, contact communications assistant M.B. Humphrey at marissah@lsu.edu.

5 Perks of Joining the LBTC’s Student Incubator

The college’s communications assistant, M.B. Humphrey, sat down with Kenny Anderson, the Louisiana Business and Technology Center’s Student Incubator manager to talk about what the program has to offer to students at LSU.

The LBTC Incubator Ecosystem is split into six programs, all with the goal to “assist the growth of businesses by assisting entrepreneurs with company operations and supplying resources that are fundamental for success.” One of the newest, the Student Incubator, is “open to any LSU student, from undergraduate to doctoral degrees,” at the discounted rate of $25 per month. Anderson shared that students from the College of Engineering are the incubator’s most “ideal client, because they often have the most innovative ideas,” that the incubator can easily help commercialize for consumers.

Each year, they host a Student Incubator Venture Challenge to showcase LSU’s brightest student entrepreneurs and give them a chance to win capital toward their respective businesses. Any start-up, including non-profit organizations, can enter. The start up venture must be a part of the Student Incubator by March 25, 2016 to be eligible to participate in this year’s “Shark Tank”-styled challenge. Read more about the services you can receive just by being a member of the LBTC’s Student Incubator below!

Venture Challenge

1. PERSONALIZED IDEA DEVELOPMENT
Anderson explained that no idea is too “early stage” for the incubator to help assist with your plans for you business. There is a short application process for the program where interested business meet with an LBTC staff member. During the meeting, you will get a tour of the facilities of the LBTC, followed by a one-on-one meeting to hash out the details of your plan and a path for your ideas.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter process with everyone, which is purposeful on our end,” Anderson said. “We sit down and we hear what you’ve done so far with your idea, where you’ve been, and it’s all confidential. Then we determine a timeline, growth plan and how our team here can fit in and help you.”

2. UNLIMITED ACCESS TO CONSULTING SERVICES
After the initial meeting with Anderson and his colleagues, students are offered a host of consulting services including: market research, strategic planning, intellectual property strategy and cash flow management.

“We actually have a software program, called LivePlan, which is a cloud-based business planning software that offers templates for creating business plans and help with financial planning. It’s usually $20 per month, but Student Incubator members have access to it for free,” Anderson said. “Because its cloud-based, the student client can work from home, section by section, and then they can add us as a contributor to allow us to review their plan and offer tips and feedback, as well. All without having to physically meet each time.”

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3. RELEVANT NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Every entrepreneur or person in the any industry will say that networking with the right people was pertinent to his or her career at some point. Being a member of the student incubator will connect you with the people you need to get your business or idea on the right path. These connections include fellow people in your respective industry to lawyers that help you protect your intellectual property.

“Our network is great for our clients. Our director, Charlie [D’Agostino], knows everybody and really makes things happen,” Anderson said. “Since I’ve started working here, over three years ago, I’ve definitely seen how students are impacted by our network. There are industry connections made and even some students who have had the opportunity to reach media outlets.”

4. COWORKING SPACE AND 3D PRINTING
Included in your membership is workspace for you and your colleagues, so that you all don’t have to work in a noisy coffee shop or in someone’s home. The coworking space includes WiFi, a lounge and kitchen area, conference rooms for meetings and four cubicles for a semi private work environment.

There’s also been a new program added, ProtoStripes, that was designed to help small businesses with “fabricating, designing, prototyping and programming” items for their companies. It gives businesses the opportunity to create rapid prototypes and computer renderings with help from people who specialize in that area.

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5. THEY WON’T LEAVE YOU HANGING
In addition to networking opportunities and consulting services, volunteers from the business community and the LBTC Advisory Board act as mentors to further provide guidance to members of the program. Also, students are allowed to stay in the program for one full year after they graduate from LSU.

“We still won’t drop students after that full year after graduation,” Anderson said with a chuckle. “From there we usually just switch them from student member to affiliate client and they still receive the same services. We’ve even had people that we worked with in the past, reach out to us years later for some help for a new business that they’ve started and we’re always willing to help them, too. If we’ve worked with you in the past, we aren’t going to hang you out to dry.”

If you’re ready to take your idea to the Student Incubator, be sure to visit their website or contact Kenny Anderson at kande55@lsu.edu.

– written by communications assistant M.B. Humphrey

Engineer Your Career…Today!

This blog post comes from one of our doctoral students who has some great career advice for all students. Whether you’re getting ready to start college or getting ready to graduate, these tips are for you! 

Jodi Boutte

Jodi Boutte

Throughout my graduate school career I noticed myself and other fellow college students suffering from the ‘shoulda-­‐coulda-­‐woulda’ syndrome. I should have done this, I could have participated in that, or if I had known, I would have done this instead of that. Sound familiar? I thought so. 🙂 As a 7th year graduate student (yes, I said 7th year), I find myself reflecting a lot on my previous years as a student, and everything just seems to be a blur or filled with overwhelming moments of rush, rush, rush. So how could I have provided myself with a better experience? Just as we apply engineering principles to a vehicle or process…Why not ‘Engineer Your Career.’ Designing your career path ahead of time can be very helpful and a huge weight off your shoulders as you work your way through undergrad and determine your next route…graduate school or industry. Here are a few ‘lessons-­‐learned’ throughout my graduate career that you may find helpful:

Lesson #1: Think with the End in Mind!
Put together Education and Career Plans as soon as possible. An education plan is a guide through your academic program. For example, you may want to get a minor in an area unrelated to your major; with an education plan, you can determine how to incorporate the additional courses into your current work load. A career plan is an action plan to follow to help you acquire knowledge and skills in addition to opportunities that will help to excel your chosen area of interest, such as internships, research experiences, or volunteer programs. Try using Microsoft Excel to list these milestones and be certain to include significant dates and deadlines.

Lesson #2: Show Your Work!
Make it a point to start a Portfolio. Portfolios are a purposeful collection of work that exhibits your efforts, progress, and achievements. Your portfolio should contain personal statements, cover letters, resumes, transcripts, diplomas, certificates, awards, presentations, projects, and letters of recommendation to name a few. It’s easy to get started, just grab a binder and begin organizing your materials. By the way, it’s always a great idea to have hard-copies of your work, so include anything you’ve worked on that provides substance.

Lesson #3: Build and Maintain Bridges!
Everyone needs a Mentor, especially students because we have a lot of uncertainties in various areas of life during our college years. A mentor can be a family member, fellow student, company employee, church member or someone you may happen to meet and look up to. Mentors are there to provide encouragement, guide you in your career choice, be resourceful, and offer opportunities and advice as you grow into a professional. Don’t know how to reach out to a potential mentor? First, make a list of potential mentors or reach out to a local organization with a mentoring program. Second, try reaching out to these specific individuals by email or phone and set up a time to meet over coffee or lunch. Third, be prepared with a list and be clear about your expectations of them as a mentor; it won’t hurt to be familiar with this individual’s background as well.

In addition, every design requires balance, so be sure to find balance in your everyday life – spiritual, social, physical well-being, emotional and intellectual. You are sure to reap the benefits of your college years when implementing these lessons into your daily life. Need further information on the tips mentioned, feel free to contact me at jboutte1982@gmail.com. And don’t forget; Start today….Engineer Your Career!

By Jodi Boutte’, M.S.
Industrial engineering doctoral candidate

Top 5 Tips from Recruiters at LSU’s Career Expo

College of Engineering Communications Assistant M.B. Humphrey set out to the Career Expo last week with one goal: To find out what the employers want to see when meeting students. Here’s a bit of what the recruiters suggested:

1. Be excited!
Cramming an interview into an already packed day, complete with hikes across campus and even a quiz or two, is exhausting. Employers understand that, which is exactly why a bit of enthusiasm when you meet them goes a long way. That illustration of tenacity is just what a company seeks in an employee.

2. Put in some effort.
Companies want to employ people they know are going to get the job done. Show the effort of your professionalism by wearing business casual office attire and having your resume printed and properly formatted for your field. According to Alyse Aldridge, an LSU alumnus who currently works at Exxon Mobil, seeing students that are, “excited and put effort into displaying what they have to offer,” stand out.

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3. Do your homework.
Knowing what the company does is as simple as a quick Internet search. Take some time to know the company’s values, missions, goals and other philanthropic activities to make a positive impact on a company recruiter. According to Sam Migliore, director of product management at Bentley Systems, Inc., LSU students have been “some of the best prepared” because of their knowledge and the ability to communicate that information effectively.

4. Be prepared to show the company what you have to offer.
This is the perfect time to toot your own horn, and you’ll often have to do it quickly. In a career expo setting, you aren’t afforded the same courtesies you are in a pre-scheduled interview. Be cordial, but also be aware that your time is limited in what you can demonstrate about yourself and your skills.

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5. Know exactly what you want to do.
Shannon McGarry, director of recruiting at Omnitracs, LLC, explained that this is the most important step in a recruiter being able to properly place you within their company. She said that while a recruiter can help you figure it out, “a student knowing exactly what they want to do looks great and frees up time to talk more about the specific position.” By doing a bit of research ahead of time, you can determine what role you would best fill in the company and actively pursue that position upon meeting a recruiter.