GHC 18 Mentoring Circles Topics

Before you meet with organizations in the Expo Hall, be sure to attend our Mentoring Circles. This interactive mentoring session is a great opportunity for you to receive tips on job searching, interviews, and furthering your career. Taking place in a large room with about 50 tables, each table is hosted by a mentor focusing on a particular topic. Attendees choose a topic, sit at the corresponding table, and chat with a mentor for 20 minutes. Every 20 minutes, attendees switch tables and chat with another mentor on a different topic.

The Mentoring Circles session will occur Wednesday, September 26, 11:30 a.m.—2 p.m. You can join this event at any time between 11:30 a.m and 1:30 p.m.

Check out what topics will be available below, and click on each topic to read a full description.

Career Opportunities

Women in Games: Software Engineering in the Games Industry

Mentor: Jennie Lees, Riot Game
The games industry presents many paths for starting and developing software engineering careers, and has some interestingly unique problems to solve from an engineering perspective. This mentoring circle will focus on the various software engineering careers that are possible in the games industry, as well as the benefits and challenges of working in this industry.

Tech Opportunities in Entertainment

Mentors: Alexa Hale and Christina Kresge, The Walt Disney Company
Entertainment is often associated with creative, rather than technical skill sets; however technology is plays a crucial role in the creative process, creating opportunities for candidates with strong engineering and science backgrounds. This panel seeks to highlight technical, or multi-disciplinary career opportunities within entertainment, and showcase the role technology plays at a film studio.

Making an Impact in Precision Medicine and Genomics

Mentor: Stephanie Yaung, Roche
This session will cover opportunities for women in tech to deliver breakthrough technologies, novel algorithms, and insightful data analyses in biotechnology and precision medicine. Attendees will gain an appreciation for the potential in themselves to help make sense of ever-growing amounts of genomic data, to define new products and one day influence treatment decisions for patients.

Eat. Sleep. Test. Repeat. Software Testing as an Enticing Career Option

Mentor: Deepthi Venkatachalam, PROS Inc.
Computer Science graduates are often presented with the question if they prefer a testing role or a development role. This is a difficult question to answer without experiencing either roles. The focus of this session is to help answer the question from the perspective of a Test Engineer.

Navigating the Transition from Academia: There’s More than One Path to a Fulfilling Career

Mentor: Kristin Hendrix, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
We will discuss approaches to navigating the transition from academia to industry. The presenter will share how she navigated career shifts, from psychology graduate student to health policy advisor to medical school faculty to user experience researcher in a technology-driven philanthropy. She will share insights about tools and approaches she has found indispensable in navigating these shifts.

So You Want to Be a Hacker: Developing the Attacker Mindset

Mentors: Adina Wollner and Justine Osborne, Apple
Computer security is a rapid growth, high impact, area of tech, but there is currently a shortage of talent. The goal of this session is to encourage more women to enter the industry. This dialogue will provide insight into developing the mentality of a security pro, vetted resources to begin navigating the field, and tailored feedback for each participant’s journey into computer security.

Careers in Hardware Design and Manufacturing

Mentors: Lauren Cohen and Allison Korczynski, Microsoft
Who makes the computers, phones, and smart devices that we rely on every day? Women just like you! We will give an overview of jobs in electrical & mechanical design, reliability, and manufacturing logistics that play critical roles in bringing consumer electronics products to life. We will share the paths we took to get to these careers and how you can start pursuing your own career in hardware.

From Biologist to Space Technologist

Mentor: Avanti Mankar, Planet Labs
Who makes the computers, phones, and smart devices that we rely on every day? Women just like you! We will give an overview of jobs in electrical & We place a great deal of pressure on young people to select a college major and a career path at an early age. College should be a time of exploration, during which, young people should be developing skills in critical thinking and research. The speaker will open a dialogue that encourages young people not to be limited by the narrow scope of a college degree while navigating the job market.

To Be or Not to Be - Breaking into Enterprise Product Management

Mentor: Shikha Khattar, Intuit
People often associate product manager (PM) roles with front-end/consumer products. However, back-end complex business logic often powers front-end products and experiences. Learn from an early career product manager who will share the similarities and differences in consumer vs. enterprise product management, the skills required for the latter, and whether this role is a good fit for you.

Developer Advocacy: A Career Path for the Unicorns of Tech

Mentor: Lauren Schaefer, SugarCRM
Companies are increasingly finding themselves in need of the unicorns of tech: people who can bridge the gap between the engineering team that builds their products and the developer community. Could you be one of these unicorns? In this session, we’ll discuss the role of developer advocates aka developer evangelists aka developer relations and the various ways you can prepare for these roles.

How to Become a Successful Open Source Contributor/ Maintainer

Mentor: Rithu Leena John, CoreOS
Companies are adopting open source technology for their infrastructure needs, making open source experience a valuable asset. But it can be scary to take your very first step into the open source community and label yourself a contributor. This conversation will share best practices, tips, and tricks to getting involved with an open source project and will point out common pitfalls to watch out for.

Not a Data Scientist? No problem! How to Build a Career in Big Data Analytics Without Being a Data Scientist

Mentor: Manisha Sule, Independent
The field of big data analytics is vast and diverse, in terms of roles and responsibilities outlined in job descriptions, as seen in the job market. The goal for this mentoring conversation will be to shed light on the spectrum of technical skills in the field of big data analytics. Dialog will explore avenues to enhance the existing technical skill set to grow into a fulfilling career.

Cloudy with a High Chance of Development: What Everyone Should Know about DevOps, Cloud, or Platform

Mentors: Rosemary Wang and Amanda Snyder, ThoughtWorks
Many job descriptions include requests for “cloud”, “DevOps”, “infrastructure”, “architecture”, or “platform” experience – what do these terms mean and what skills might we need? Whether you are an aspiring software or platform engineer, let us decipher some useful resources, tools, and practices that can help us answer some of these questions, or at least what we do not know.

Be Prepared for Promotion to Principal Engineer

Mentor: Catherine Spence, Intel
Many companies have a technical career track where engineers advance to the point where promotions are decided by corporate committee. This job title may include Principal Engineer, Distinguished Engineer, and/or Fellow. This mentoring session will address the discipline required to advance, share the committee vetting process, and inspire you to imagine your future as a senior engineer.

Lessons from 100 Startups

Mentor: Steph Avalos-Bock, University of Chicago
Startups can be a great way to make an impact, work across disciplines, and build the future, but they’re not easy. This talk will share general lessons from my work with over 100 startups, such as generating and testing ideas, building products, and surviving the roller coaster that is being a founder. You’ll leave with strong foundation for getting started on your own entrepreneurial endeavor!

Job Search/Interviewing

Acing the Software Developer Interview

Mentor: Susan Galbraith, Smartsheet
Developer interviews are notoriously nerve wracking. Writing code under pressure is difficult for anyone, but there are a number of strategies that can help you keep a cool head and communicate effectively while solving problems. You’ll leave this mentoring session with a fundamental understanding of how to prepare for and succeed at developer interviews.

How To Land Your First Job: Strategies for Getting the Career Fair to Work for You

Mentor: Allie Lustig, Apple
This dialogue will discuss a custom plan to help attendees conquer various career fair scenarios with the ultimate goal of getting a job attendees are passionate about. The group will brainstorm methods to tackle career fair concerns, emphasizing actions for before, during, and after the career fair. Attendees will gain insight on the benefits of job fairs and a new approach to maximizing efforts.

Grad Student to Job Candidate: How to Translate Academic Experience for an Industry Job Search

Mentors: Edith Arnold and Sonya Dhillon, Apple
When STEM graduate students are searching for industry roles, it can be a challenge to translate the value of their research experience into a clear story for hiring managers and interviewers. This circle will feature advice and dialogue to practice making a case for how students’ depth of expertise can bring value to an industry team.

Sticking Point or Stepping Stone? About the Importance of Posing Questions in Interviews

Mentors: Baerbel Haenelt and Julia Siebeck, SAP SE, Application Innovation Services
Interviews can be nerve-wrecking. You can never be sure if you’ve given the right answers. Can there even be a “right” or a “wrong”? Or is it rather a question of “fitting in” or “not fitting in”? Each employer will try and find out whether the applicant suits their needs, but what about you? Is the company you’re applying for a good fit for you? It’s your future, and it is your job to find out!

An Iterative Approach to Finding One’s Passion

Mentor: Megan Witmer, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
You’re a talented person in tech, but there’s a lot you’ve never seen. How do you find what inspires you? Megan’s unexpected path can baffle the outsider but each stage was a thoughtful exploration, continuously moving toward an ideal role. We’ll discuss how to take an iterative approach of excitement and adventure instead of an idealized–and potentially unrealistic–search for the perfect job.

Finding the One: Job Search Tools to Help Land Your Job Soulmate

Mentor: Emem Adjah, Spotify
Job hunting can feel like dating: you have a dream of what you are looking for in a partner and you spend time seeking the perfect match. With these patent-pending frameworks and tools, this mentoring session aims to ensure that participants can properly focus on what they want and how to approach the job search to land their ideal job.

To Ace Your Career Move, Put on a Sales Cap

Mentors: Deepti Shatagopam and Rajani Boyapati, Oracle
Job search is an overwhelmingly stressful experience for many, regardless of where they are in their career path. This dialog will approach job search as a systematic Five-Step Sales process – the product you’re selling is yourself; and the target customer is your next employer. Attendees will gain insight into the “sales” strategy that they can leverage in pursuing their next career opportunity.

Research / Graduate Studies

Is Another Degree Right for You? If So, Which One and Where? Living Life at the University

Mentors: Monica Garfield and Wendy Lucas, Bentley University
Choosing your path in life is difficult. When is it time to enter a Master’s or a Ph.D. program? This mentoring circle will discuss the benefits of various academic degrees. Finding the one that is right for you is important, and knowing when additional academic training is not important is also helpful. Whatever your path will be, we will help you explore options to build your career.

CRA-W: Research Careers -- What Are the Options? How Do I Get There

Mentors: Dilma DaSilva, Texas A&M University; Sandhya Dwarkadas, University of Rochester
What does a research career in computing look like? What are the options in academia? Industry? government? What can you do to best prepare yourself for one of these careers? How do you successfully apply for them? Come chat with researchers in academia, industry, and government about these questions and more.

CRA-W: How to be Successful Post-Bachelor's

Mentors: Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology; Amy Hughes, MIT Lincoln Laboratory
You are well on your way to earning a bachelor’s degree (congratulations!). What’s next? Should you consider graduate school? Should you look for a full-time job? What are the pros and cons of these career decisions, and how can you set yourself up to be successful post-bachelor’s? Come chat with professionals about the types of doors that are open with a bachelor’s degree in computing. Bring your questions.

CRA-W: Is Graduate School For You?

Mentors: Susan Rodger, Duke University; Jodi Tims Baldwin, Wallace University
Is graduate school in computer science and engineering for you? What benefits do you get once you have a graduate degree? Come chat with students and professionals from industry and academia who will help you understand what it’s like to be in graduate school, and the options you’ll have when you finish. Bring your questions.

CRA-W: Master's or Ph.D.?

Mentors: Cynthia Lee, Stanford University; Diane Myung-kyung Woodbridge, MS in Data Science, University of San Francisco
Considering either a Master’s or Ph.D.? Not sure about the difference? Come chat about the main differences in career options and in graduate studies between a Master’s and Ph.D. degree. Topics include realistic goals and expectations for each degree and various strategies for deciding which degree to pursue. Bring your questions.

CRA-W: How to Successfully Apply to Graduate School

Mentors: Maria Gini, University of Minnesota; James Mickens, Harvard University
How do you choose the right graduate school for you? Is there anything you can do during college to improve your chances of being admitted? What if you’ve been out of school and working for a while? How do you apply? What is the time line for completing the application process? What are the best kinds of recommendations? How can you fund graduate school? Come talk with professors about how to apply successfully to graduate school.

CRA-W: What is Computing Research? How Can Undergraduates Participate?

Mentors: Kelly Shaw, University of Richmond; Jeannie Albrecht, Williams College
Interested in computer science research, but not sure what computer science researchers do? We will talk about the world of research, to help you decide if it’s for you. We will also describe the different ways you can obtain a research experience during your undergraduate career, and the doors that these experiences will help open. Bring your questions.

Tips / Skills for Success at Work

Your Career Will be a Journey: Create Your Map to a Management or Technical Development Career

Mentors: Kathrin Nos and Stefanie Schmitt, SAP SE
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to personal development and career paths. In this interactive mentoring session, you will learn how to start your own journey by: 1. Getting a trail map to explore your options. 2. Checking your backpack to explore yourself. 3. Starting your hike without being afraid of taking detours. It is up to you to set the focus for our conversation.

How to Survive and Thrive When You’re the Only Woman

Mentors: Letha Etzkorn and Vineetha Menon, University of Alabama, Huntsville
Maybe sometimes you were the only woman in your class in engineering/computer science school. What if you’re the only woman on your technical team, in your department, in your company? Should you behave differently? What about how you dress? How are the group/team dynamics different? Attendees will examine methods for being happy and successful even when they are the “only one.”

Epic Mentoring Relationships

Mentors: Diane Boettcher and Janel Brown, Microsoft, Radiant Solutions
The value of mentoring is well-established. Yet nearly one in five women have never had a mentor. The protégé has the most to gain, and therefore must bear the burden of establishing and nurturing the mentoring relationship. Learn to create epic mentoring relationships that will foster and hypercharge your career and your life.

It’s a Challenge, Not a Roadblock: How to Turn Obstacles into Challenges

Mentors: Nandita Gupta and Alison Smith, Georgia Pacific, LLC
From a women’s perspective in a manufacturing career, you may face various situations that may seem insurmountable at the time. We will discuss how you can overcome those obstacles and turn them into opportunities. Attendees will feel empowered to pursue a career in technology within the manufacturing field or other male-dominated fields.

Why You Should Network

Mentors: Elizabeth Rodgers and Beth Apillanes, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
We constantly hear that networking is the way to get ahead, to get opportunities, to get promoted. We also hear that “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Like anything else, networking requires a plan and execution. We will answer questions about who to approach, where to go, what to do and we will use real life examples from our experience and career to depict reachable objectives.

Surviving & Thriving Without a Y Chromosome

Mentor: Emily Heath, The MITRE Corporation
Being a woman in male-dominated fields can be challenging, whether it’s in academia or industry. This session will discuss common problems and issues faced, tips for developing effective coping strategies, and methods of constructing support networks. Attendees will gain an understanding of the landscape they are entering and skills for succeeding despite potential challenges.

Why You Should Pursue Public Speaking and How to Get There

Mentor: Yenny Cheung, Yelp
Starting a tech career as a minority is challenging. It could mean being the only one to speak against the popular opinion, or becoming more visible to get the same level of recognition. Public speaking helps you achieve that and more. This dialog shares tips on how to overcome the fear, and ways to get started. Attendees will be prepared to brace presenting from a team meeting to a conference.

Creating a Career Plan: Why Iteration and Exploration Should be a Part of Your Career Plan

Mentor: Sofya Irwin, Yelp
Within the tech sector, there are a variety of different career options. These choices can seem bewildering to those who are just starting their career. This talk discusses how to develop a career plan and find your niche within the industry.

Bringing Your Authentic Self to Work: Navigating the First Five Years of Your Career

Mentors: Tina Moore and Michele Chaffee, PwC
Change can be daunting, and making the jump from college to the workforce can be particularly challenging, especially if you’re a women in tech. This session will address this topic by providing answers on how to make the most of your first 5 years in tech. Attendees will walk away with the tools to forge their own path within their tech careers and will feel empowered to find their voice.

Owning your Work Environment: How to Tackle New Challenges and Ask for Help

Mentor: Julia Kieserman, Palantir Technologies
Knowing when to ask a co-worker for help and how to go about doing so is a critical skill that provides immeasurable benefits both to the individual and to the team they are working on. With the right set of techniques and guidelines, those early in their career can learn how to hone that skill and use it to optimize their productivity and develop meaningful relationships with coworkers.

Balancing Work and Family: How to Get Your Ideal Work/Life Balance

Mentor: Harini Jagadeesan, Netflix
In today’s world, both career and motherhood/caregiving can be demanding, time-consuming, satisfying and richly rewarding. Balancing the often-conflicting obligations of the two is even more so. Join us in this interactive session to explore challenges, discuss options and strategies and identify best practices for long-term success in both roles.

How to Speak up as Woman Engineer

Mentor: Ying Fei, Google
Speaking up for what we need at work is not easy especially for women engineers because most of our colleagues are men who may not understand our pain points. Running the grass root effort connecting Google employees through social events to get career advice, I collected feedback from hundreds of event participants and gained insights about how to speak up to get help.

Let's Get Our Geek On and Stay Technical!

Mentor: Archana Bhattaram, Amazon
Want some guidance, advice and tips on how staying Technical helps in every career path while following your passion? Join me and we can discuss on how you can identify the job of your choice without any inhibitions of your coding abilities.

Boosting Your Brand: A How-To Guide

Mentors: Stacy Gorelik and Jenny Edelston, Flatiron Health
While obtaining experience and developing the right skill sets are core elements for career development, these alone won’t make you a thought leader in your field. Establishing a personal brand takes focus, hard work and time. This session will teach you about the importance of creating a personal brand, along with specific steps you can take to create and enhance your personal brand.

Making Good Decisions

Mentor: Allyson Mackay, PwC
Do you hesitate before saying yes or when you are not 100% sure? What about saying no? Are you struggling to say no to things that do not serve you? This mentoring circle looks at how we make decisions and offers a framework to do so more effectively. Leveraging product management, this session proposes the development of a prioritization framework to help make smarter decisions.

Moving to the Next Level: Becoming a Technical Manager

Mentors: Mindy Hamlin and Cari Dorsh, HP Inc.
Women make up 36% of the entry level jobs in technology companies but less than 30% of mid-level manager leadership roles and less than 20% of senior manager roles. How should you think about your strategies for navigating your career path to a management position & progressing up the management track? Gain insights from experienced technical leaders on how to achieve your career goals.


How to Get that Funding: Writing Successful Scholarship Applications

Mentors: Alma Castillo, Google; Claire McKay Bowen, Los Alamos National Laboratory
With government education funding steadily decreasing, writing successful funding applications is key to a successful career in STEM. Our goal is to provide tips and tailored advice for students applying for scholarships and other professional development programs. Our mentees will learn essential skills in pitching themselves and their projects; transferable skills for in their future careers.