As a member of the CU Women in Computing club at the University of Colorado Boulder, I received a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing from the local company Zayo Group. The Grace Hopper Conference is the largest Women in Tech conference held over three days of talks, workshops and networking events.
I’d never been before and it was a wonderful experience and very eye-opening!
This year there were over 12,000 women who attended, including a handful of guys as well. It was pretty awesome. I got a bunch of free stuff (my roommates said it was like Christmas when I came home) as well as met a ton of cool people.
Talks and workshops ranged from design and usability of applications, to big data computing and information management, and everything in between! I mostly attended Human-Computer Interaction talks, and I learned a lot about the different processes and how to approach designing and creating a new product.
There were a couple of speakers from CU who gave presentations, including a PhD student and a professor in the CS department. Also, one of the keynote speakers was the author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, and she had a really funny and inspiring talk about why women should stay in the tech field.
The conference also hosts a huge career fair with over 300 companies to talk to and mingle with. It was a little overwhelming, but definitely a ton of fun.
Usually, CU students spend the first two and a half days handing out résumés and then the second half of the last day collecting as much free stuff as possible. At that point, recruiters and employees do not want to have to pack everything they brought back up and take it with them, so they are almost begging you to take stuff.
It was a very long three days since the conference goes from 8:30-7:00 every day and then different companies throw parties that you can get invited to. I was lucky enough to be one of the first 1000 people to register for the Google dinner party and was gifted a Chromecast, ate very nice small plates of food (including flaming donuts!) and played with some of the toys they had there.
Also, Oculus had three different virtual reality demos that attendees could experience, including tour of a museum, a documentary and a game. That was my first time using virtual reality software, and I ended up going through two of their demos because it was such a cool opportunity.
We also managed to take a break from the conference and explore Texas a little bit. We went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico off of Galveston Island one morning before the conference. We arrived there just before the sun rose, and I was able to watch the sunrise from the beach.
The night before we left to come back to Colorado, a couple of us went to 18+ clubs (the perks of not being 21 yet) and explored Houston a bit. And lastly, CU sponsored a very nice dinner, where we all got to regroup and talk about our experiences at the conference.
(By the way, Texas air-conditioning is out of this world!)
Thanks to everyone who made this trip and conference happen. I had a great time and if you’re considering attending in the future, feel free to shoot me an email.
Author: Kylie Dale
Kylie is working toward a B.S. degree in Computer Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Originally from Northern California, she moved to Colorado partly for the snowboarding and the hiking. Kylie has a passion for programming, but if there’s any way for her to be outside that’s where you’d find her!
Other posts by Kylie Dale