The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is one of the largest conferences of women in technology. Women worldwide from different tech-disciplines gather to learn, connect, and celebrate their achievements during this conference. Various hands-on sessions, workshops, networking events, and the career fair are integral parts of GHC. GHC 2020 was hosted virtual and consisted of about 200 sessions, workshops, networking events, and more. Many companies attend this conference to recruit candidates and share more information on their interview process, culture, and values. During the conference period, many companies schedule interviews with the candidates. A few of us who attended the GHC in 2020 wanted to share our experiences, insights, and/or tips that you may find helpful!
Jen Macklin shared the following experience:
This was my first experience with GHC, and although the virtual platform was somewhat overwhelming to navigate, I developed an action plan to maximize my time. The first day, I compiled a list of companies and networking sessions to attend, and prepared a very short “elevator pitch” about my background, education, and goals. Once GHC announced many informational sessions would be available for on-demand viewing upon the conclusion of the event, I decided to forego live attendance in favor of networking opportunities.
I engaged with many employers throughout the course of the week, all of whom were eager to talk to candidates. The focus for employers did seem heavily weighted towards entry-level positions and internships, and my experience with the virtual booths was such that the majority of attendees were finishing up their undergraduate degree programs. However, it was still valuable for a mid-career person pivoting to tech.
Many employers seemed interested in steering me towards Product Management once they learned of my business degree and management experience, which gave me some things to ponder as I go forward on this journey. I spent about ten minutes with each employer, including several Big Tech companies, and even received a job offer with one employer who recognized my skills portfolio would be an asset to their niche market.
I am so appreciative of the opportunity to attend and am planning on going next year in Chicago. I imagine an in-person experience would lend itself to more organic interactions and opportunities to engage with fellow attendees.
Xunjing Wu shares the following:
This was my first GHC event. The online experience was a little hard to navigate around, but I was able to participate in the network sessions. They were 13-min sessions, each with four other participants. I got to meet quite a few product managers at different career levels ranging from students to product management directors. I look forward to checking out some of the recorded sessions, as they will be made available after the conference.
Tiffany Choi shares some of her tips as follows:
- I recommend posting your resume into the resume bank early, so companies could reach out to you to schedule interviews and/or private networking events.
- Most of the company events were not posted ahead of time, so I used the Facebook Group and LinkedIn posts to search for events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/926549627483994
- On LinkedIn, I added the hashtags #GHC2020 and/or #vGHC2020 to my LinkedIn tagline. I also posted on LinkedIn that I was attending the Grace Hopper Celebration. I had recruiters reach out to me for private company events via LinkedIn messages.
- I also leveraged my networks to see who else will be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration, and kept in touch with them throughout the conference to see if they knew of any private / public events.
- I was able to attend events that were not publicly advertised on the Grace Hopper Celebration website via email invitations, Facebook Group posts, LinkedIn posts, and Linkedin messages.
- After each networking event, I wrote down the speaker’s name and job position, and I added each company attendee on LinkedIn with a custom LinkedIn message.
- I always tried to rename myself on the Zoom calls to say – “Full Name / UPenn / SWE,” and I tried to participate in the networking sessions.
- I submitted my resume to each company’s resume drop-in link for visibility.
Finally, Krishna Morawala shares her experience as follows:
Ever since I heard about GHC and related activities from Angela Wen, one of the MOSA co-founders and my classmate, I was inspired to attend it in the coming years. This year, I am very grateful for having received the MCIT Online Grace Hopper Celebration Scholarship to attend this incredible event. GHC 2020 was hosted virtually for the first time, which came with its pros and cons. Various sessions were being recorded and available to access for about one year from the event date. However, this year, the GHC faced some technical difficulties and the career fair was postponed.
During the GHC, I attended a few panel discussion events involving Facebook and Google women engineers. My main takeaways from those events were to be authentic and believe in yourself! Coming from the female leaders of the tech industry, I found their experiences and insights valuable and inspiring to continue on my current path. I also attended a live workshop hosted by Wells Fargo, walking the participants through how a chatbot is implemented on a large scale. This workshop also covered various steps and resources involved in creating a successful chatbot.
Since I had also published my resume in the resume bank, and I was contacted by a few companies to apply to some of their open positions. I ended up receiving a few interviews and an offer to join a company full-time. I also attended several networking sessions with some large tech companies, as well as some start-ups.
In addition to the tips shared by Tiffany Choi, I would like to include the following
1. If you plan to attend the GHC, make sure you register for GHC and place your resume in the resume bank as quickly as possible. Some of the workshops or sessions had capacity limits, so registering for them in advance is very beneficial.
2. Keep an eye out on the Piazza careers site. At times, some large tech companies may publish a resume drop link. Sometimes, you may receive an invitation to attend an invite-only networking event by sharing my resume.
3. Many students who regularly attend GHC may publish some beneficial videos on YouTube sharing their tips on how to get the best out of GHC. Keep an eye out for those videos since each year, the GHC experience might be slightly different, and these videos provide a great way to gather information from various perspectives.
Overall, I believe my experience was positive, despite some of the initial technological hiccups. This conference turned out to be quite rewarding for me, and I am sure the in-person conference experience next year will be even more interactive than the virtual one! I plan on catching up on the missed sessions in the upcoming months!