Grace Hopper Celebration
GHC is the most comprehensive event that gathers women in tech all around the world to empower and support women in tech. I’m one of the student scholars who had a privilege to attend Grace Hopper Celebration 2019 in Orlando amongst thousands of attendees. Being part of the women in the tech army at the GHC fuelled me with passion, motivation, and courage. Surrounding with 25,000 talented, bright and innovative women all around the globe was indescribable. GHC19 was an absolute game-changer! I believe my experience will light the way of ones who plan to attend GHC 2020 next year.
While preparing for the GHC, I searched up for blog posts to guide me through the event as it was my first worldwide conference. On the other hand, everybody’s experience is way different than others because there are numerous happening at the same time. After attending the GHC, I observed that sharing experiences and guidance are needs. Thus, I decided to compose my experience through a blog post series hoping it will be beneficial for future attendees. Also, I’d like to provide brief information about the convention center and the hotel provided for the scholars since GHC 2020 will hold in the same location Orlando, FL next year.
The ambiance is extremely inspiring and astonishing GHC keynotes (opening and closing ceremonies) open your eyes to fabulous success stories of women in tech and make you feel that you are exactly in the right place. In a male-dominant field as computer science, women need to empower each other and fight for their rights together since we are still far from absolute equity in every aspect of the tech. We still deal with gender bias in the field instead of focusing on the contribution of women to the field. Technology needs innovative and dedicated minds whether women or men. Gender makes no difference but brilliant minds. The spirit of the GHC opened my eyes to a new world that is full of triumph of women in tech I would never know. I recognized the impact of empowering and encouraging women in tech at the GHC. Especially as a minority in the field, the GHC is the only place where your voice is heard, where you feel the power of women.
Imagine you’re surrounding 25.000 creative, smart and productive women! It is just marvelous. You share lunch with an engineer at Google, meet with a professional while waiting in the line who’s working at your dream company/institution and surely, expand your network while learning and sharing. Also, it is better to attend the GHC with a group rather than attending individually since people mostly move together with the groups, and it boosts the efficiency of the conference and broadens your network.
Where to start
Numerous sessions, events, talks are happening at the same time. That means you have to make smart choices. Inevitably, you miss a lot but gain a lot, too. Don’t worry about the things you miss, focus on the events that offer you benefit.If you are a job/internship seeker, you should better spend the first two days of the celebration at the career fair. There are more than a hundred companies including heads like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and more. You are there to find a job or an internship, and they are there to hire you.
Engineers, recruiters, and interns answer your questions, review your resume/CV, and share their experiences. You can talk to them in person and take their advice for your career plans. Most of the companies take your resume/CV and interview you in person so that they can refer you. Also, if you’re a scholar at the GHC, it is a tangible advantage for you. Most of the companies give precedence to scholars.
Manage your time sensitively.
Be at the career fair at around 6.30-7.00 am. Even though the career fair opens at 8.30 am, you should be there in the early morning because there are the stellar amount of people at the convention center and the majority are job seekers, just like you. To avoid improper scenarios, keep in mind while chasing an interview with your dream company, you are there to empower women not to compete with them.
Waiting in the lines can take roughly one to two hours. Do not get discouraged! Two hours waiting just to talk with a recruiter seems a lot but it grants you an interview opportunity. You would not want to miss a chance to reserve your spot at your dream company/institution. The career fair will be relatively placid on the last day; however, waiting until the last day would be a weak strategy considering companies offer jobs/internships and complete interviews in the first two days. The best thing to do is getting done with the career fair in the first two days and saving the last day for attending sessions, swags, and taking pictures as many as you can.
On the other hand, you may be an expert who attends the GHC for eye-opening conferences rather than the career fair. There are numerous happening at the same time besides tech showcase, and poster session at the career fair. Registrations for the conference series usually begin in August, so you have plenty of time to schedule your flawless week at the GHC.
Convention Center and Hotel
Convention Center is tremendous, and you will be running sessions to sessions or career fair to sessions. You may not have time to eat peacefully, so taking snacks/granola bars with you is a must. Even though there will be some snacks provided, bring your meal/snacks with you instead of waiting in the line with hundreds of people to get feed. The food court is also huge and it is open until 3 pm yet you need to leave the career fair and walk about ten minutes to get there. If you’re waiting in the line for an interview or just for talking to a company recruiter, you better not leave your spot. Also, you do not know how much time it might take, so the best thing is taking snacks with you.
Rosen Plaza Hotel was reserved for the GHC Scholars this season. Even though you don’t spend much time in the hotel, location and other features make a difference for sure, and Rosen Plaza is the best! There is a sky-bridge between the convention center and the hotel, so you don’t have to take Uber/Lyft to the convention center every morning.
There is a lot to write about the GHC for sure, but instead of writing all of them in one post, I’d rather start a series includes three posts to illuminate future attendees. With this purpose, I’ll write about networking at the GHC in the next post.