My blog has not been updated for some time because last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Grace Hopper Convention in Houston through the School of Informatics and Computing, and it was by far one of the best experiences of my life. Being able to meet so many incredible women and hear their stories was amazing, and I also got to hear some amazing talks from women in the field.
There were so many highlights of my trip, and if I listed all of them this blog post would be way too long! If you have specific questions about the conference at all, please feel free to contact me and I would love to talk about it! Below are the top 5 things I learned from going to the conference and I cannot wait to go back next year!
Top 5 Things I Learned From My Grace Hopper Convention Experience
1. Do not undermine your abilities
One of the biggest events at the conference for me was the career fair and being able to reach out to companies that I might not have had the opportunity to talk to previously. In the past, I never 100% considered myself an “engineer”, and frankly that word kind of scared me. After talking to some big companies, such as Pinterest, I realized that I do know how to code and I do program, and as long as you are willing and wanting to learn, they will hire you.
2. Feel comfortable reaching out for support
I think that one of the biggest fears, women specifically, have in the workplace is knowing how and when to ask for support. Being a minority in a large industry is hard and at times it can feel as though you are the only person with problems. That is so not true. There are hundreds and thousands of women out there going through the same problems you are and if you reach out for genuine support, I can not think of anyone that would say no. We all need help and simply knowing that someone out there has your back can make the world of a difference.
3. Be unapologetically you
If you are not some superstar-coder, don’t be some super-star coder. If you are a super-star coder, do not let anyone tell you you’re not. If you love what you do, show everyone that you love what you do. And never apologize for being different.
4. Know your strengths and recognize your weaknesses
At the conference I had an amazing conversation with an employee from a company. One of the reasons we had such a good conversation was because I was being honest about my strengths, but also talked to her about things I was working on. No one is perfect and being honest to a recruiter or manager about obstacles you are overcoming only shows how strong you are. I was honest with her that last summer during my internship, it took me a while to feel comfortable telling my manager when I was having a problem with my project. It is because of that honesty that she wants to hire me.
5. Be confident in yourself and always take a seat at the table
Sheryl Sandberg is someone in the tech industry that I look up to, not only for advice, but as a role model for equality in the workplace. I got to hear her speak at GHC and one of her biggest beliefs is that women have to take a seat at the table. To me, this means being not only an active listener, but also an active participant in all conversations in the workplace. Women can not be afraid to voice an opinion and in return, others have to listen. Additionally, women are not going to get stronger unless we advocate for each other and help each other move up in the ranks. We can not do this alone, it has to be a team effort.
I could go on about lessons learned at the conference; these are just a small sample. If I could have one key takeaway, it would be that we have to be more confident in ourselves and our abilities to know that we can, and will, succeed in whatever we undertake! Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If they do, don’t let it put you down. Do everything in your power to prove them wrong.