Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tips for Newbies

Firstly, I’d like to say that the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is one of my favorite conferences.  As a woman in technology, I don’t meet that many other women in technology on a day-to-day basis.  While being unique is great, it sure is great to flock together like birds of a feather!

Also, I’d like to second everything that BJ has written in her post!  I was a senior last year when I went to GHC and I was looking for a job.  I submitted my resume to the database and got several contacts from that.  In fact, I interviewed for a job while I was at GHC.  Because of GHC and that job interview, I have a job at Lockheed Martin.  I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunities that GHC can present to you!

Having gone to GHC for the first time last year, I feel qualified to give advice to any newcomers.  Last year I attended as a student and this year I’m attending as an industry professional, so my advice is coming from my student experience.

Bring business cards
Yes, students, this includes you!  Having business cards instantly makes you look more professional, plus people now have your contact information on one card!  My personal card has my email address and phone number on it.  You may want to add your website, blog, or twitter username depending on what you feel comfortable with.  I designed my cards at MooZazzle also does business cards.  Feel free to put some personality into your cards!!

Networking is all about a mutually beneficial relationship.  With that being said, as a student, I always felt guilty networking since I felt like I was constantly asking for favors.  Lindsey Pollak gave me this great piece of advice when it comes to students and networking: Tell whoever you are networking with, “Please let me know if there is ever anything that I can do for you.”  This is great for two reasons, first, it’s not necessary to “pay back” a favor immediately.  This allows a person to contact you later, maybe even years later, and ask you for something.  Second, this is a message conveys that you understand networking is a two way street and you’re willing to return the favor.

Make a schedule
I made a rough schedule for myself on my Google calendar and printed it out before coming to GHC.  I put one day (it’s hours off because of time zones) on a whole page.  Even if some sessions that I wanted to go to overlapped, I put them both on the calendar with the location.  This way, I always had some point of reference.  Of course, I deviated from my schedule, but as it changed I just wrote it in.  I was able to quickly tell people when I was free since it was all on one sheet!

It’s ok to take a quick break
This is a big conference and sometime it can be overwhelming.  There is so much to do!  Don’t be afraid to skip a session to take a quick nap or catch up with someone you just met.  Last year, I didn’t make it to any BoF’s (something I will remedy this year!).  I spent that time chatting with people.  My GHC experience wasn’t any less fulfilling and it helped recharge my battery.

Bring an extra bag
Swag. Tons of it. Leave space in your suitcase or pack an extra bag (especially if you want to take some back for a women in technology student organization).

Be comfortable & have a blast!!


Valerie Fenwick said...

Great ideas, Ed! Even for those of us who have attended before :-)


Gail Carmichael said...

Yes, great post! I like that you've included a suggestion to take a break. Last year was my first time attending GHC as well, and I remember feeling pretty exhausted. (It didn't help that the altitude diminished my appetite.) I ended up missing a couple of keynotes because I needed some extra sleep and some down time, and though I hope not to do that again (I hear they were great!) I know I will need to rest periodically. This is harder when your room isn't in the main hotel, as some of us will experience, but it's true that you can even just sit and relax instead of attending every single talk.

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