Hey everyone! While my fellow VSAs will be sharing a little bit about research experiences with you this week, I thought I’d tell you about a conference that I had the opportunity to attend this past winter break. Last fall, I got an email about a conference hosted by Qualcomm, a telecommunications and semiconductor company co-founded by USC’s own Andrew Viterbi. The conference is held over four days at Qualcomm’s headquarters in San Diego and is designed for female college students in computer science or electrical engineering. After indicating my interest, I interviewed with a member of Qualcomm’s campus recruiting team for an opportunity to attend. Eventually, the company selected three students from the nation’s top universities, resulting in a conference of around 60 students.
The conference was a mix of skill-building, technical workshops, professional seminars, networking, and learning about the company. On the first day of the conference, we had a networking mixer with several of the young women working as engineers at Qualcomm. It was really cool to see what sort of work I could be doing in just a couple years.
The next day, we toured various parts of Qualcomm’s enormous campus and attended presentations on some of the exciting projects going on there – including some demos of Qualcomm’s augmented reality software, Vuforia. This technology can be used to make mobile games based on the landscape of the table in front of you, or provide a more interactive experience at museum or educational exhibits.
We also participated in two mock technical interviews, one on the phone and one in person. This is such a valuable opportunity to practice with real interviewers and real questions, without the pressure of a real interview. Afterwards, I was able to get instant feedback on which skills I should be working on for the future.
My favorite part of the conference was the last day – in which we participated in a mini-hackathon with middle school girls from the surrounding area. The challenge was to build apps on Android tablets that worked with an Arduino to control visual feedback. The apps all related to some field of community service, such as public safety, education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability. This was my favorite activity because I had the chance to mentor younger girls and foster their interest in technology, while also learning a little bit about the Arduino!
Overall, I really enjoyed my weekend in San Diego with Qualcomm. I explored some technical areas that I had never learned before, met fellow computer science students from all over the country, and learned a lot about a really cool company. Most importantly, I was able to network and make some contacts with engineers in various aspects of the industry that may help me in my internship search down the road!
Have a great week!Meet Ellen