Monday, September 21, 2009

Grace Hopper Conference - How to land a job by becoming a child!

My first time in GHC was in the year 2007 in Orlando. I was a first year Masters student at Texas A&M University at that time. I went with zero expectations, literally. But I went with all the vigor and enthusiasm of a 5 year old:) And I landed myself a rewarding internship in a big firm. That started it all...

GHC will change you, for better. And I am not kidding. GHC taught me several things - confidence, networking skills, communication skills, building relationships and a host of other things!

There are already excellent posts on how to make the most out of GHC. I will not repeat them here. But I can share how GHC can help you land a job and also contribute to your personality. All you have to do, is become a child, once again. :)

1) Believe in yourself

Yes, that is the first and the last advice to remember. If you believe in yourself, you can make a mountain out of a mole. I believed in myself. I walked up to the recruiter's booth without any concerns - "Will I be able to impress them?", "Will I be able to get that internship?" etc. This automatically gives you all the confidence. You are no more anxious. You know that you are worth it.

2) Be inquisitive

Ask questions, like a child who is endlessly curious. Find out more about the company, about the job roles, about work culture, people, kind of work etc. If you don't ask questions, you will never know!

3) Prepare for your exam

Yes, just like a child who prepares for his exam. Come prepared. Take a printout of all companies attending and mark them in the order of your preference. Pick a company that is in the bottom of the list and go to their booth first. This is because you give yourself a "warmup" time. Converse with them, ask regular questions about their company, share with them your experience etc. This will give you time to reconsider how to talk to the other companies, especially the ones on the top of the list.

For example, the first company I approached, I forgot to take their business card. I also did not answer very well on a data structure question they asked me. Since I did not expect that coming. (Yes, they do ask some basic technical questions. So be over-prepared to be safe.)

4) Play and lose yourself in play

When you are with the recruiter, showcase your talent and work experience. It is very important to be passionate about your previous work experience and interests. You want to convince the recruiter that you know what you do and would love to contribute to their company.

5) Show love and respect

Again, recruiters have been standing all day long. Be genuinely concerned. Do not kick off with a list of programming languages you have worked in for instance. Give some time. Ask them about their trip to GHC, is this their first time, what sessions did they like etc. And then start briefing them about why you are at their booth.

6) Enjoy yourself

It is important to enjoy the process. Do not take this as a task. Plan out what companies you want to talk to in detail and do adequate homework on the company and on your resume. You want to be able to answer precisely anything that they point out in the resume. With a little planning you can relax, have fun, enjoy and also land that job!

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