GHC14: The Experience of a First-Timer — Part 1

This past week has been an incredible whirlwind of events! With speakers and Hopper duties and networking — there was barely anytime to think! Through the craziness that was Grace Hopper though, I still had an amazing time that I will never forget!

Our journey didn’t start on the greatest note — the first flight was delayed for an hour in Ottawa and then an additional 2 hours in Chicago. You could say we weren’t too pleased. By the time we arrived in Phoenix, cabbed to the Budge Lodge and then checked in to our room, we had been travelling for over 14 hours! (with the time differences) (Side note: when I say «we» and «our», I’m referring to the other ladies I was travelling with. You can see some of their blogs here: Gail CarmichaelDaphne OngLindsay BangsDaniella Niyonkuru)

The next morning we were up early to get registered and to get our swag bag. Then we headed to the Communities meeting (check out the blog here:, which I had to leave early to get to the Hoppers meeting (as a Hopper, I volunteer at the conference to get my registration fee for free!). My first Hopper duty was to help lead people to their seats during the first big keynote session. Walking into the huge hall with 8000 empty seats, it was jaw-dropping.

I couldn’t believe all these seats were going to be filled!! I didn’t realize until that moment how much GHC had expanded. Although this was my first year, it’s still incredible to know that attendance had doubled! After waiting around and making some new friends (shoutout to @claire_janelle!), attendees started filtering in. Soon enough, the room was almost all filled!

Once everyone was settled, our shift was over so we headed back to sign out and return these lovely red Hopper vests!

We just relaxed for awhile, checking out our swag bag and program guide (see my later post for all the free stuff I snagged!) until it was lunch time. GHC had this neat food court setup where you could get all different types of food — I went with tacos (it had the shortest line and I was hungry!). After lunch, I headed to the Student Opportunity Lab (Edit: see this post for details!). I left a little early so I could check in my bag before the Career Fair Launch (for only $2 it was worth it to not have to lug around my laptop!). I met back up with some of the girls I came with and waited in line to get into the Career Fair. Once the doors opened, it was like a store opening on Black Friday — a mob of people running to booths they’re looking for. I knew it was going to be madness, but I was not prepared for the real thing. There were so many people in there, I was kind of feeling claustrophobic! We tried our best to get through the crowd and talk to as many people at as many booths as we could. My one regret was not having a plan going in. We just walked around haphazardly, missing many booths. That being said, I still gave out quite a few resumes and managed to get enough stuff for the first day it was opened. Eventually, we took a break and had a boxed dinner that GHC provided for us.

At 8pm, I had a paired interview planned with ThoughtWorks (they had contacted me beforehand). For my first interview ever, I think it went okay! (crossing my fingers I hear back!) By the time that was over, it was getting late and we all headed back to the hotel to recharge for the next day.

I’ll share my second day at GHC in my next post!

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