GHC14: The Experience of a First-Timer – Part 2

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Part 1 of my GHC experience here!

My second day of the Grace Hopper Celebration started off with the keynote speaker (as an audience member this time instead of a Hopper!). The special guest GHC hinted about ended up being Megan Smith! I know this didn’t come as a surprise to some people, but I was happy since I had never heard her speak before. (in case any one doesn’t know – Megan Smith is the newly appointed Chief Technology Officer of the USA) Such an inspiring woman.

After her short speech, came the much anticipated conversation panel between Satya Nadella and Maria Klawe. While there has been much controversy about this session, I think it was still pretty awesome for a CEO of such a large company to participate in GHC. Yes, he may have said some things that can be taken negatively, but I think he was just misinterpreted. Maybe I’m just gullible and naive, but I do believe he didn’t mean some of the things he said. I’m not taking anything personal.

Anyway, moving on. It turns out, the day before I had left my folder of resumes at the bag check so afterwards, I headed there to see if there was anyway it may have still been there. To my dismay, they were thrown in the garbage… I’m ashamed to say I did take the folder out of the garbage can to survey the damage. Unfortunately, coffee had been spilled on the one side of the folder. Thankfully, I managed to recover two resumes from the pile, but all the rest were destroyed. I was pretty upset since I had photocopied many copies and now I couldn’t give them out to all the companies I had wanted to, especially since I didn’t get to many booths the first day because of the crowds. (Note for next year: keep extra copies in different places as not to lose them all) I tried not to dwell on it too much and headed to the biometrics: cool or creepy? session. My main take from that was definitely cool: I like the idea that we can use our bodies – which are unique to ourselves – as security. Instead of having to remember that damn password that has to have a lowercase, uppercase, digit, symbol, punctuation and a math equation, we could use our DNA – which we have with us all the time. Okay, yes, someone can cut your finger off and use your fingerprint. But how likely is that to happen? I like to think not very often.

Anyway, I left a bit early (I like to avoid the crowds) and headed to the career fair once again. This time I went by my self (which was kind of a big deal to me – I don’t usually do this kind of networking on my own) and gave out the two resumes I had saved.

Surprisingly, I did well on my own, getting quite a bit of swag as well as some great conversations. I was glad that many booths had tablets set up where you could put in your information instead of giving a resume. Obviously a resume gives them a better sense of who you are but at least I had my info out there. I found it to be a struggle though when they would ask me what I’m looking for/interested in. At this point, I don’t really have any idea what I want to do, and I’m not hugely interested in one domain. I mean, yes, I’m in the software engineering stream, and I have some experience with mobile and web development and back end stuff. But as a passion? I don’t have any clue. I thought maybe looking through the different booths at GHC would give me some inspiration, but I feel even more confused now – there’s so many different areas, how am I to choose?

After getting tired of the career fair, I went to have lunch (I packed the second half of the sandwich from the boxed dinner from the night before – I felt so thrifty!) and to relax for a bit. I took this time to FaceTime my parents back home and unwind before the next sessions started up again. At one point I even took a 30 minute nap accidentally!

The next session I attended was Lightning Talks in HCI. I found the lightning talks to be a bit too fast for me – I didn’t always completely understand what they were presenting. But there was a neat talk on how dance is affected by technology, and another one about the fandom culture on Tumblr. As a Tumblr user myself, I thought it was pretty cool how they researched Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter fans and their „feels“ on Tumblr to predict viewer tendencies. You can see my notes on these presentations as well as the others here: GHC Wiki.

Afterwards, I then met up with the other Carleton girls and walked back to the hotel to freshen up before the evening entertainment. We went back to attend the Girl Rising film festival series. If you haven’t checked it out already, do it: We only got a sneak peek at GHC, but I really want to see the whole film now. Once I get caught in my school work, it’s the first thing I’m going to do. Such an incredible story.

Afterwards, we headed to the dance party. Now, don’t get me wrong, I hate dancing. I suck at it, and I’m wayyy too awkward for it. And I was not feeling it at all – at the beginning. There were tons of people there and I just didn’t want to dance. But then Shake it Off by Taylor Swift came on (which is my JAM) and I couldn’t go back. I had to join in. And am I glad I did! It was so much fun! Everyone was laughing away, pulling the craziest and stupidest moves – but no one cared! It was great.

Eventually, I just got too tired and too hot from all the movin’ and shakin’ so we headed back to the hotel for bedtime.

Next up – my final day of GHC!

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