My weekend at Grace Hopper

This post was originally from the blog site Binary Girls that my friends Abbey, Sarah, and I started. I’m saving it here for archival reasons.


Grace Hoper Women in Comptuing logoI’m writing this on my flight home. It helps pass the time, but my tablet might have typos. Sorry in advance!

There were many firsts to this trip. I haven’t been further east than Ohio, so I’ve now been to the coast. I also saw the ocean! (Well , from the 27th floor observation deck of the world trade center.) Although I have flown in an airplane one other time in my life, it was many years ago, so I got to experience that again. And, of course, my first Grace Hopper conference was an experience of its own.

I started off a bit tired, so our flight into town arrived late, and I didn’t get to bed until about 2am. After arriving at the convention center the next day, we registered and got a swag bag. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that much stuff! The keynote was not just funny, but very motivational. Probably what got to me was literally seeing what 3500 women looked like. The fact they were geeks took a while to soak in still.

I went to a couple of the workshops after that. I’m generally used to predominantly being around people that aren’t geeky, so to go to a workshop and it not just be about a geeky topic (like cloud computing or big data), but actually be in depth, it’s just great. It warms my little geeky heart! We had some way over-priced lunch, then I went to a tech talk table. The thought is that you start a table with a topic and people who want to chat about it can join in. Although the table I joined (nano/micro robotics and artificial intelligence) emptied about the time I joined, I did meet two cool ladies who were both PhD students. They talked a bit about their research, which for the most part I understood, and one had to leave. . I continued talking to the other for another hour and a half. I hope I get to remain in contact with her!

That night we walked a little bit around town. It was pretty cool being around the Inner Harbor area and just hearing and seeing the water and boasts. . It’s definitely something we don’t really hear or see in Kansas City! And of course good to just relax for a bit after being so stressed the past few weeks at home.

I got some more sleep that night, then Friday was another keynote. This last was more technical, but she has done very inspirational stuff to say as well. I think the one thing that stood out the most was that she’d mentioned one of the best ways to make great changes to society was to be a computer scientist or an engineer. Since so much of what we do has a huge impact in many areas of life, we can bring about a great changes to society.

I did a couple more workshops, and then hit the career fair. I knew it was big, but walking through it was also something else. All the big names in tech companies were, both in computer science as well as other fields hiring. I was looking for internships for next summer, but I suppose if nothing comes from it, I got some good ideas on how to improve my resume for what the companies are looking for, as well as some good experience in answering some preliminary interview questions. Oh, and got practically another swag bag full of stuff.

The RockIT Celebration was that night. My feet were dead by that point (wore heels all day and stood for nearly 4 hours of the day) but it was pretty cool. Not only was it in a science museum (totally cool on its own) but we got to see a free IMAX 3D movie, and desserts were good!  (Google, Microsoft, and RSA cupcakes? Yes please!) There was a dance party, but Abbey, Sarah and myself were pretty tired and went back to the hotel. I would have danced like a pretty big dork anyway.

We played tourists on Saturday. We did some paddles boats, saw the observation deck over the whole city, shopped some, and worked on Binary Girls a little bit. (One reason I haven’t written as much has been my coding and customizing the site. Overall another good day.

We have another 30 minutes until we’re back in KC. I’m ready to go back to real life now, and enjoy time with my cat (I’m sure he missed me!). It was a good weekend, and I’m glad I went. It was definitely tiring, but refreshing to see and talk to so many geeks, and definitely to see the women in my field and what they’ve accomplished. It helps give me hope that I can also accomplish some amazing things with my own career.

Have you been to the Grace Hopper, or any other good technical conference? What were your favorite parts of it?

~ Sarah W.

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