Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don't consider it, just do it!

While we were on our way to the Denver Airport, my friend Vetria was trying to do a video interview of mine (like I did with other people), probably to tease me, and asked me a question:

"So what would you like to say to the other women students who are considering attending the Grace Hopper Conference (GHC) in 2009?"

My instantaneous response was, "Don't consider it, just do it!", and Vetria was impressed :)

Dr. Bryant, our department’s associate chair and who was in the minority group at the conference had a similar question:

“When do you think is the best time for a female Ph.D. student to attend the Grace Hopper Conference during the program?”

I said, “The very first year!”

How helpful it would have been had I been to the conference in my very first year in the Ph.D. program! I feel that I have missed a lot by not being a part of the conference in previous years.

I feel that the top reasons to attend the conference are the keynote speeches and the opportunity to meet the leaders in computing. Every speaker had a motivational story to tell. Not only one would feel motivated to do well in their field but would also be convinced to think creatively to solve the problems that the community is facing in general.

The networking workshop with Jo Miller was aptly scheduled for the 1st of October. The tips that I got during the workshop (the 30 second commercial or the elevator pitch) came handy when I had to interact with other attendees throughout the conference. Thanks Jo :)

The CTO forum was interesting. I thought about doing some data mining to analyze the characteristics of the top leaders in the industry. Due to lack of data (we got to talk to 4 or 5 CTOs), the mining didn’t work. However, I plan to Google stalk the CTOs and find out if there are any commonalities. The short meeting with Justin Rattner from Intel was awesome. He came across as a very smart, modest, and a truthful gentleman. I asked him how helpful his degree from an Ivy League school was in taking him where he was today. He laughed and said that it did help a lot at the beginning.

From the technical topics to general non-technical ones, like “ACM Membership Gender Study” and “The ABC’s for ABD’s: Tips for Working Your Way through Dissertation to PhD”, most of the issues that a technical woman should be aware of were covered. Apart from information sharing and networking, there were booths set up by various sponsors who were on the recruitment drive. If not for the jobs or internship, the booths were worth a visit to pick cool freebies :).

Information sharing, networking, job opportunities, technically enriching talks, motivational speeches, improving soft skills….what else…hmmm… C E L E B R A T I O N … yes, celebration of women in computing! Every moment at the conference was a celebration in itself. However, the jam session on 2nd October and the sponsor party on 3rd October were rocking.

Now I have plans to talk to the other female peers in my department to share my conference experience and to motivate them to attend the conference next year. I don’t see a reason why a woman techie should not attend the conference at least once in her career.

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