It’s Friday, and my very first Grace Hopper experience is coming to an end! It’s been a hectic but brilliant week and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
For those of you who don’t know, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the world’s largest gathering of women in technology, produced annually by the Anita Borg Institute. (And you should definitely read more about Anita Borg and Grace Hopper, who are both inspirational female computer scientists).
This year, the conference was hosted in Orlando, Florida. I received a scholarship from Facebook, which covered my conference registration fee, travel expenses, and hotel costs (more on scholarships later) so I was lucky enough to attend two additional days of Facebook-specific preprogramming events. I arrived in Orlando on Sunday, and spent the next two days meeting fellow women in tech from all around the world!
On Wednesday, the first day of the conference, I walked from the hotel to the convention center for the opening keynote, not knowing what to expect, and I was shocked. The hallways were PACKED with attendees, all excited to grab a seat and get the celebration started! To give you an idea: there were 18 THOUSAND attendees (and all women in tech!!) at Grace Hopper this year! The opening ceremony featured a series of amazing and successful women in tech: Dr. Fei-Fei Li talked about her endeavors in the field of artificial intelligence, the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Megan Smith discussed the future of women in tech, and last but not least, Melinda Gates told us more about her vision for young girls in tech!
I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.
The next couple of days were just as exciting! There was an amazing career fair with every company you can think of, from big companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, to smaller companies like Airbnb, Slack, and Zendesk. The ballroom was filled with recruiters and engineers excited to talk to the eager students bustling around. Plus, Facebook had the cutest booths and perfect Instagram ops (of course!)
Outside of the career fair, there were also endless options of presentation sessions to attend. Topics ranged from career guidance and advice to inspirational sessions from some more powerhouse women in tech (the list never ends!) I went to a few presentations each day and heard discussions about artificial intelligence used for social good, the future of the Internet of Things, and advice on how to pave your career path.
It was an overwhelming but unforgettable experience that I recommend for every female in STEM, not just computer science. Not only is it a great way to learn more about the future of the field, it’s also an opportunity to meet new people and appreciate the work of women in tech from all around the world. Here’s where scholarships come in: you don’t have to pay out of pocket to get the chance to attend this amazing event. Many companies, like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and more, offer scholarships for students to participate in the event, so I recommend applying early to get this opportunity!
Like I said, Grace Hopper can be a lot, but I’ve never been more inspired than when I sat in that ceremony with 18,000 fellow women who share the same goals for the future of tech. We’re ready to keep pushing forward this movement of change, and I’ll leave you with this final note from Grace Hopper herself:
The most dangerous phrase in the language is “We’ve always done it this way.”Admiral Grace Hopper