Earlier this fall, I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. It was refreshing to see so many passionate people joining together to discuss the latest innovations in technology and how each of us can work together to empower women to thrive in the information technology space. Betty Chen and Akanksha Bansal, 2014 VMware interns and WCW (Women Connecting Women) members are two shining examples of the game-changing talent that attended the conference with me. During the conference, Betty and Akanksha chronicled their #GHC14 journey on the @vmwareu Instagram account to give an inside look at their real time conference takeaways. After having settled back into the work and school grind, I thought it would be great to reconnect with Betty and Akanksha to learn a little bit more about their biggest learnings at the Grace Hopper Conference. Read on to discover what’s next for Betty and Akanksha. – Price Peacock, VMware Social Community Manager, Employment Brand
2014 VMware R&D Intern
Office Site: Palo Alto, California
University: The University of California, Berkeley
My flight from San Francisco to Phoenix was full of women ready and excited to attend the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration. If my first interactions with #GHC14 attendees on the plane were any indication of what was to come, I knew that I was in for an amazing adventure. During the entire flight, I talked with two excellent ladies about why choosing computer science was making a huge difference in our lives.
On the first day of the conference, we had ample opportunities to connect with other women to share our perspectives on pursuing a career in technology. Attending the celebration was like finding the right place and people to confide our troubles as women in computing for the first time. Whether you were a student, professor, or engineer, we were all connected.
The most impressive talk I attended was “Graduate School Surviving Skills”. Although I am an undergraduate student, I could feel how other conference attendees felt when they told the speaker things like, “I have a new baby and I am a graduate student.” “I am the only female in my lab.” and “Whenever I have something to ask that men won’t understand, I do not know who I should talk to.” The speaker always answered the audience member’s question and shared experiences that were truly inspiring. She made us feel warm and cared for. Finally, at the end of the talk, the speaker asked all of us to sing a song where she had revised the lyrics. The song was about being stronger and that no matter what difficulties we faced, we can get past them.
There was also a student opportunity lab, which shared advice with students looking for jobs. The opportunity lab used a new style of talk where ten people sat around a table and only one of them would be the speaker. They would talk about one topic and everyone would have chance to ask questions and share experiences. Attendees would take turns to attend different topic sessions, such as Interview Skills, How to Refine your LinkedIn Profile, and Exploration in Data Science. These sessions opened new ‘windows’ for me to see things differently. Although we have fewer women in the computer science field at this point in time compared to men, we have so many sisters looking out for each other and helping us achieve our goals.
Finally, I want to thank VMware for supporting me to attend this amazing event! It led me to a new world that I had never explored, and allowed me to make friends that can help each other on the way to pursuing our dreams!
2014 VMware R&D Intern
Office Site: Palo Alto, California
University: The University of Texas at Austin
As a second year attendee of the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference (#GHC14), I was inspired to be around so many talented and motivating women. This year was particularly special for me because it increased my curiosity and desire to get involved in open source. There were so many great takeways from each session that will definitely be useful for navigating my career and life after college.
Attending Grace Hopper sparks a newfound energy in all of its attendees. Time is the only constraint that needs to be managed when looking to create a successful Grace Hopper conference experience, as there are so many talks and workshops happening simultaneously. It’s always a tough choice to decide which sessions to attend, as they are all so interesting.
From sessions on career development, like “Building Your Professional Persona,” and “Perfect Team: Networking Matters,” to motivational talks like “Change the World and Boost Your Career.” In addition to these tracks, there was also a poster session that happened in parallel with the Career Fair.
Attending the conference allowed me to connect with prominent leaders in the technology field and get a better understanding of their research while sharing ideas with them. The conference really instilled a sense of togetherness among attendees, as we were able to connect with one another and share similar struggles that we go through on a regular basis.
I feel that the Grace Hopper Conference is the platform for women in tech as it aims to empower everyone with equal opportunities and unending inspiration, by bringing together a community that is life-changing. This can be seen by the fact that there are so many scholarship programs that help students attend #GHC14 that more than likely would have never had the chance to hear about this conference, let alone be a part of it. Conference attendees are also empowered to present their recent research findings and attend sessions that focus on the professional development of women in technology fields.
The conference creates opportunities for collaborative proposals, networking and mentoring for everyone. I watched professors meeting potential Ph.D. students, companies finding their future teammates, young entrepreneurs meeting their lifelong mentors. Everyone puts aside their fears for three days to connect and share knowledge and expertise for the benefit of others, which is truly inspiring.
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