Grace Hopper Celebration 2023: Growth & Opportunity
Recently, I had the chance to attend The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC). GHC is the world's largest gathering of women and non-binary technologists. It is named after computer scientist and U.S. Navy rear admiral Grace Hopper, who was a pioneer in the field of computer programming.
GHC is hosted by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and it is held annually in the United States. The conference features a variety of technical and career-oriented sessions, as well as keynote speakers and networking events.
GHC is a great opportunity for women and non-binary technologists to learn from and network with each other. It is also a valuable event for companies that are looking to recruit and support women and non-binary employees. In this post, I’ll share my experiences at this year’s event – letting you know what to expect, why you should attend, and some of the most interesting presentations.
My GHC Adventure
This event has the power to boost your confidence significantly, leaving you with a newfound "I can do it" attitude when you return home. Besides the insightful sessions, there are hands-on workshops available, enabling you to acquire practical skills across various tech-related domains. These workshops are invaluable for skill enhancement. GHC also offers mentorship possibilities, allowing you to connect with seasoned professionals who can provide valuable career guidance and advice.
Following the conference, there are several ways to make the most of your membership. You can participate in virtual sessions covering a wide range of topics, and you can also continue building your network within your local tech community by joining the events they organize.
While the entire GHC catalogue is impressive, a few presentations stood out to me.
- Open Source Day: This virtual session gave us an opportunity to contribute to open source platforms. Until this session, I didn’t understand how people got involved with open source projects. I learnt a lot and contributed my own changes, which was very empowering.
- "Java 17 and Beyond: Learning New Java Features with Code Katas!" by was an insightful session on Java 21 features like Records, Record Patterns, Pattern Matching for switch and Sealed classes.
- In "Engineering Your Career Path”, Margery Connor and Carla Williams shared their career experiences and challenges, while providing the audience with advice on how to grow our own careers. One particularly good piece of advice was:
“As you advance in your career, you'll encounter additional challenges that may require you to decline requests from colleagues who are close to you. It's essential to prioritize discerning between right and wrong, and consistently enhance your skills each day to foster vertical growth.”
- "Non-Technical Career Paths in Cybersecurity" by Meridangela Gutierrez Jhong was very interactive – starting with her directing us to sit in groups and actively engage on discussion topics. She also gave clear career pathways for different cybersecurity roles in and useful certifications to land jobs.
- Walmart hosted a "Natural Language Understanding: Create your own language model" session that was a great introduction to creating LLMs, including pros and cons to different choices.
Embracing the Power of Networking: An Introvert's Journey
As an introvert, I tend to open up more once I establish a comfort level with individuals. Over the course of getting my MS in Computer Science, I’ve come to recognize the significance of networking and engaging in conversations.
During GHC, I pushed past my comfort zone and actively participated in various networking events, like “Community Lounge: Dallas” and ” Community Lounge: India Communities (Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi, Chennai)”. In doing so, I encountered numerous like-minded technologists who generously shared their experiences and offered valuable career advice.
To my surprise, I even took on the role of hosting a networking session on Braindate, allowing me to engage with people, gain insights into their experiences, and reciprocate by sharing my own.
In one of the networking sessions, I had the honor of meeting an individual whose narrative truly ignited my inspiration. Her journey from a biology background to the tech industry provided a unique perspective that I hadn't previously encountered. It served as a potent reminder that individuals with technical backgrounds may sometimes feel discouraged when faced with unfamiliar concepts. Yet, her example, coming from an entirely different field, demonstrated that a steadfast commitment to learning can result in remarkable accomplishments surpassing our initial expectations.
Will I attend in 2024?
Absolutely. GHC embodies the importance of networking, embracing diversity, and continuous learning. It also highlights the transformative potential of stepping outside your comfort zone and the value of sharing your experiences with others.
Were you at this year’s event, or interested in attending in the future? Would love to talk. Reach out on LinkedIn.