Thursday, September 16, 2010

New to Grace Hopper? So am I

The Grace Hopper Conference is among us and I am very excited.  I have been perusing the website to find interesting talks and sessions to attend as well as picking my blogging assignments for the Community Bloggers.  Then it dawned on me, this will be my first GHC experience.  Do I know how to make the best of my opportunity to attend the conference?

In undergrad, I attended a conference called ABRCMS (the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students).  In fact, after attending 3 times as an undergrad and 2 times as a graduate student recruiting for my University, I consider myself a pretty seasoned ABRCMS veteran.  Here are 3 things I've learned from my ABRCMS experiences that I hope to use at GHC:

  1. Plan ahead:  There are a number of times when I have gotten to a conference or networking function and realized that I forgot my business cards.  Not a good look for anyone.  Make sure that you plan out what you will take with you to the conference.  If you are presenting, guard your poster/powerpoint with your life.  Just recently I managed to accidentally leave my poster at the security gate of the Pittsburgh International Airport. Fellow blogger Gail has a great entry on tips on planning for the conference.  You can find her advice at Getting Ready For a Conference
  2. Attend the Conference:  Conferences are great places to learn about new fields, meet new people, and connect with potential employers, collaborators, and/or friends.  The key to taking advantage of potential opportunities is to ATTEND THE CONFERENCE.  Simple concept, I know, but sometimes I feel the need to state the obvious.  
  3. Elevator Pitch: You never know when you will find yourself in an elevator with or standing next to a potential employer. Have a short introduction of yourself prepared. Keep it short, sweet, and interesting.  If your 90 seconds go over well, maybe you would piqued enough interest to continue the conversation. ~ Make it better ~ Got an iPad (or similar mobile device)? Upload a copy of your most recent poster to display your research if the opportunity presents itself. 
Now to all you seasoned GHC vets :-)  Please comment on this post with advice for making the most of the Grace Hopper conference.  I'm sure all the newbies like myself as well as others could appreciate the advice. 

See you in Atlanta! 

Photo credits to 


Gail Carmichael said...

Ooh, I better work on my elevator pitch... for the first time I feel like I actually have something cool to say in one (research-wise). :)

Also, LOVE the idea of bringing info about your research to show on your iPod. Genius.

Charna Parkey said...

The most important thing I could say to someone new is don't be afraid to talk to the speakers and attendees. Everyone there wants to talk to you we want to know you!

The more you engage yourself the less "alone in a room full of people" you will feel, trust me!

Tye said...

Great post Portia! My advice would be to come prepared to interview! There will be tons of great companies at the conference and you never know what opportunity will present itself, or where. Last year, a recruiter from HP noticed me on a bridge. I was gazing at the beautiful scenery and she asked me what I was thinking about; I told her “my future.” This sparked a great conversation and led me to the HP booth; which is where I am now a full-time employee!
Along with your business cards, be sure to bring several copies of your resume and at least one business suit. Also, make sure that you do your homework. Know your strengths, interests, and information about the companies that you would like to work for. You could look up job requisition numbers, online, that interest you. Not only does this set you apart from others, it also shows the recruiter that you are serious about a position within their company.
I look forward to seeing you all in Atlanta!

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