Next Year I Will Ace The Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing

This was my first year attending the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing and I am so thankful for the amazing opportunity. #GHC16 is a huge tech conference for women in Houston, TX. The mission is to foster an environment for growth, productivity, and success for all 15,000 women engineer attendees.  

I am sharing my experience and successes from GHC16 with you because, maybe my lessons learned will help you at a future conference OR it will serve as a motivation/inspiration to see someone have a positive experience at Grace Hopper (and/or in engineering).  The title of this blog post implies that I failed at this year’s conference but, no, it was quite the opposite.  Going into this convention with 1 month of prep time, no expectations, no resumes printed out, and a rough game plan for the week, I came out with amazing successes.

LinkedIn Grace Hopper Booth, source

Here are the THREE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM GRACE HOPPER that helped me ace my experience:

1.       Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready!

No one knows who you are or why you are there so be prepared to tell them. Recruiters talk to hundreds and thousands of prospective candidates during the convention so they don’t have time to walk through your resume or get a rambling story about who you are. Make sure you can introduce yourself in 30 seconds. If you want to go even further than that, have a customized pitch for different scenarios.

What will you say to a recruiter at a booth?

What will you say when you randomly meet a recruiter while walking to the convention and need to seize the moment?

Will you have the same pitch for an engineering recruiter and a research/lab recruiter?

How will you pitch yourself to someone the same level or age as you? (undergrad to undergrad, professional to professional, etc.)

My conversations with recruiters were completely different from the conversations I had with other undergrads and casually networking conversations. For fellow women engineer undergrads, I want to expand my network, make friends, add each other on social media, etc.

For a recruiter, I want to see if they are hiring for a position that I want, submit my resume, add them on LinkedIn, etc.

2.       Have A Goal/Objective for GHC

What do you want to get out of this convention experience? A summer internship, job, research opportunity? Having a goal will allow you to narrow down what workshops to attend, what booths to stop by, what after party's to attend, etc. Knowing what you want will help you be more efficient and deliberate in your decision making, however, it is totally okay to go with the flow (if that is what you are comfortable with).

Having an objective/goal was important for me because of 2 things:

One: Recruiters would literally ask me, “What do you want? An internship, invite to an event, etc.” Being able to tell them what you want will get you closer to having that thing.

Two: I attended Grace Hopper as a speaker for Mozilla and as an undergrad. For Friday of GHC16, my objective was to facilitate a successful open source workshop during the Hackathon for Humanity and recruiting for the Mozilla Campus Clubs initiative. For the other 2 days, my goals were different and were centered more around being an undergrad seeking a summer internship.

Women in Tech Book Signing

3.       Make Friends and Connect (sounds corny but this one is my fave!)

I made some pretty cool connections just by talking to the people next time. From arriving to the airport in Boston to leaving the Houston airport, I networked the entire time. In many occasions, it was not deliberate. Sometimes you just end up walking or sitting next to a recruiter or a group of girls that are also from Boston (yay! new Boston women engineer friends *waving hi!*). My favorite random interaction was when I asked this random woman if I could split a taxi with her to the airport, and that I would Venmo her the money. She ended up being a Venmo engineer! How ironic and super cool to Venmo someone that developed the Venmo app? I got to have a ride to the airport with her and some other Venmo engineers, talking and connecting all the way there!

I never know what could happen so, I try to be prepared and open to life and this has helped me tremendously.


How did I do it? Honestly, I love conventions. Which puts me at an advantage point. I love preparing for conventions, submitting my resume to companies early, and just the overall preparation and execution process I talked about in a previous blog post. However, that process usually takes 2 months’ minimum. I didn’t know that I was going to Grace Hopper till 3 weeks before so I couldn’t fully prepare for the convention, amid: midterms, traveling for interviews, and life. Which means that I had to get rid of the anxiety and just get comfortable with impromptu situations and adjusting to my environment quickly. I think that I performed extremely well at Grace Hopper being that I passed out 40 resumes, had 4 onsite interviews/4 phone interviews, and some job offers. Before getting to GHC16, I did have 1 interview already scheduled but the rest all happened at the convention.

Since this year’s convention had such an awesome outcome, I wonder what I could achieve with more prep time?

Grammarly yours, Semirah D

Grace Hopper Must Read:

tags: #GHCOSD16 #GHC16 #GraceHopper2016 #GHC2016, hackathon for humanity, open source day, mozilla, open source, Django, webvr, python, aframe, #mozillausa #soundofcharm #semirahd #semirahdolan #mozlove #teachtheweb #community #womenintech #womoz #opensource #volunteer #education #inclusion #digitalinclusion #fsa #firefox #inspire #tech #iloollikeanengineer #mozlearn #mozscience #moztechspeaker

Popular Posts