While boarding the flight to Houston, I looked around and realized, I am on a Grace Hopper plane! That’s exactly what the other passengers called it, a Grace Hopper plane. We were all on the plane to Houston specifically to attend the Grace Hopper conference. Even though we had to endure TSA, and even though it was 7:30AM (a time of day I rarely see) there was not a frown in site. We are going to a massive networking event after all, so why not? We all had this one thing in common, and so the networking begins. To the left of my seat was a Researcher from Cambridge, MA “not England as that’s a big difference” he assured everyone. This will be his third year at GHC and in order to win a conference pass, he had to have 4 conputers running on different servers during open enrollment, and ready, to press the button. Impressive, I thought. Great to know for next year.
To the right of me was an IT person who manages data centers. In order to get to attend GHC, he had to volunteer as a recruiter. This will be his 4th year. Some other passengers were first timers like myself, mostly from Microsoft or Amazon. Those two companies after all, dominate the tech industry in Seattle. Not one person I met was staying at the same hotel as me.
Once we landed, we all cheered or sighed in relief. Did I mention the weather at an earlier blog? Confirmed by the captain at landing, it was a searing 90degrees… something I’m not used to this time of year. I looked at my sweaters and realized I had only packed long pants. Then suddenly the researcher on my left said “we aren’t allowed to wear shorts anymore because Lisa Brummel left the company so all I brought are long pants!” Was that inappropriate? I hope not. It did make me feel better because I wasn’t alone with the long pants.
After riding in a taxi through Houston, I wasn’t very impressed. The streets seemed empty, and building windows were very dark. I couldn’t peek into buildings without looking out of place. At 5 pm, commuters fill the streets and compete to get hom. Hot breeze welcomes you every time you exit a building or a taxi. Then the cool Air Conditioning welcomes you back every time you enter a building or taxi.
In Houston city, free busses run within city limits. Taxis will take you to another place in the city for a flat rate of $6. You can also rent a bicycle and ride designated bike lanes around town. The Galleria provides mall-like shopping. Its supposed to be one of the biggest malls in the area. I may hit that up later this week.
Its hard to imagine that there are 15000 conference attendees, all converged on this one city. I will see all attendees at once when the conference begins tomorrow.
I then attended a pre-conference social event. When you enter, you are given 5 bracelets in one color of your choice. Your goal is to meet people with different bracelet colors, and exchange bracelets. If you succeeded, you will end up with 5 bracelets of all different colors. What a very fun way to meet people! I met people from the Identity team, Microsoft Office Tokyo, Bing, Office Online, Windows Server, from all types of jobs: devs, PM, SWE’s, managers, etc. It was almost a neverending social meeting. While meeting one person after another, somehow along the way, my brain forgot that I was an introvert and at that point, I actually had fun! I met a person who works out of Boston and was confused about what she would be doing tomorrow. I gladly helped by showing her the app, showing the schedule and how she can add a topic of interest to her schedule. She left a happy camper.
After the networking event, three girls and myself decided to roam the city for dinner. We discovered that restaurants in particular, close at 10pm. So we walked. We walked and walked and walked. Suddenly, there was light in the distance. We were tired and hungry, so we all agreed to go there.
The place was like a foodcourt in the basement. BBQ tacos in the corner, Izakaya on one side, Beer on tap, and crepes. We ate our fill, and each ordered an uber back to our hotels.
I felt the day was a great preamble to the conference tomorrow. We networked, met people. We opened up, which is hard for many folks. Every meet is an opportunity. I’m ready for the real thing tomorrow!