Last September, I had a chance to go to Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest gathering of women in technology. This conference is named after Grace Hopper, a female computer scientist who invented the first programming language compiler.
Before the opening of GHC, we also had an alumni reception in Houston. It was a great opportunity to talk with and get connected to alumnus working in different areas. the reception was held in a local restaurant, a perfect place for small talks. I was a little bit nervous at first but soon started to enjoy the conversations. Even though some of the alumnus may have graduated more than ten years ago, we could still share the memories of a professor or memories of school events. Besides anecdotes, I found sharing the visions and stories of the alumnus were really helpful and inspiring to me. On the other hand, this event was also like a warm up for the big conference starting the next day.
The conference was a palpably different environment. In school, I have never had the chance to be surrounded by over 20,000 fellow women in stem and fully embrace this community. We also have various events at school, such as Hidden figure Awareness Night, to inspire and encourage more women in computer science related fields. But at GHC, the scale itself is already an inspiration.
During my three days at GHC, I attended the Expo with more than twenty fellow students from WashU as well as individual interest sessions. My favorite one was a talk about how to transfer from a software engineer to product manager held by a product manager from Appfolio.
Besides the interesting talks, the career fair was a little bit overwhelming. I stood in line for almost an hour and half for a 5-minute talk with a software engineer from Microsoft. But I did not just wait. I had a very positive conversation with the girl waiting behind me, who is a senior studying computer science at University of California, Davis. We even got connected on LinkedIn later. I think this is another reason why we love GHC: not just keynote speakers and technology showcases, but also supportive small talks between peers who are equally enthusiastic.
I am really grateful for the opportunity of attending Grace Hopper Celebration. Walking away from the celebration, I will keep on my study on campus and future career with the energy I felt from all the women I have met and seen at GHC.