USF Computer Science Sends Largest Cohort to Grace Hopper

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the largest celebration of it’s kind in the world. It provides attendees with an unforgettable experience, filled with amazing opportunities and exceptional content focused around women in technology. Women from all across the world come to network, learn, and discuss their experiences and wisdom from the tech industry.

This year, the Department of Computer Science sent our largest cohort of 32 students, two faculty, and two staff to the conference in Houston, Texas. This was made possible through the generous support of the Craig Newmark Foundation. We asked the students to share their experience at this year’s conference.

What was your main motivation for attending Grace Hopper? What goals did you set, and did you achieve them?

“My main motivation for attending Grace Hopper was to gain more knowledge in cyber security and to gain more confidence in myself to be more assertive with my career. My goals for the conference was to go to a talk and to network. I did achieve these goals as I attended a talk called “How to Negotiate and Stop Holding Yourself Back”. The talk was extremely helpful as I was never taught how to negotiate properly and that I should not feel bad for asking what I want. Additionally, I had met with a lot of companies, which will help keep Women in Tech sustainable after I graduate.”

  • Theresa Nguyen, BSCS Class of ‘19

Last year after returning from Grace Hopper (GHC), I was the most inspired I had ever been. Before attending last year, I was doubting whether or not I wanted to continue with computer science but after GHC I realized there was nothing else I would rather do. The inspiration I had received was like no other. So this year my goal was very much the same: to come back from GHC more motivated to achieve great things than I had been before attending. Additionally, I had no interviews lined up before attending so I had a goal of getting at least one interview while there. After speaking with a Nike recruiter on just the first day, I was asked to interview with them later that afternoon. So I ended up achieving both goals!”

  • Summer Marsh, BSCS Class of ‘20

How was your experience at the Grace Hopper Conference? What stood out and why?

“It was an amazing event! It was shocking to see that there are so many women in tech are supporting us, encouraging us, and they are thriving in industry. I have never realized how powerful our group is. It was wonderful that either while waiting in line to get into the fair or the printing room, other attendees talked to you proactively and it was such a friendly and warm setting. Even on the way to the conference or back to the hotel, even on car sharing and on the plane, everyone was talking about the conference, and I met recruiters and students almost everywhere the days of the conference. It was amazing to me how big the impact of Grace Hopper conference is.”

  • Yuanyuan Sheng, BSCS Class of ‘19

“It was truly an incredible experience. It was so empowering to be surrounded by so many accomplished and excited women, and I was able to finally get over the fear of networking and interviewing. I think this conference really helped me build up my confidence, and realize that entering the tech world is not as scary as it seems. I have a new appreciation of my own abilities, and I have amazing memories to take away.”

  • Chaitrika Budamagunta, BSCS Class of ‘20

What speakers or sessions stood out to you? Why?

“Speakers that stood out to me was Jessica O. Matthews. She stood out to me the most because she repeatedly said that she did not ask to be where she is today. It just happened. She saw a problem and solved it. Then, more problems came in and she solved them too and adapted herself to be able to solve them. I liked how she said it was her destiny to be where she is today, but she did not know it then.

  • Chaitrika Budamagunta, BSCS Class of ‘20

The session that stood out to me was: How to negotiate and stop holding yourself back. This is because I didn’t realize that the women in the room felt and talked the same way as me when I negotiated. Now, I’m still learning how to do that because I hold myself back a lot. I wonder if I ask too much or if what I’m asking makes me not creditable. These women told me I was wrong and that I am right to ask what I want and deserve because I am worth it.”

  • Theresa Nguyen, BSCS Class of ‘19

What was your biggest surprise from the Grace Hopper conference?

“That more than 20,000 women were there to encourage each other regardless of the professional status, race, or sexual orientation.”

  • Soo Jung Kim, MSCS Class of ‘20

“My biggest surprise from Grace Hopper was how easy it was to talk to recruiters at the career fair. I remember last year I was extremely scared of the career fair and spent most of my time in the sessions. This year, however, I spent a good amount of time at the career fair! I started by talking to companies that I didn’t necessarily know much about so I could perfect my elevator speech without being so nervous. After just one pitch, I was ready to speak with recruiters from other companies! I learned I just had to be confident and passionate and the conversation would flow easily from there.”

  • Summer Marsh, BSCS Class of ‘20

Every year, women technologists and the best minds in computing convene to highlight the contributions of women to computing. The celebration results in collaborative proposals, networking and mentoring for our attendees. GHC presenters are leaders in their respective fields, representing industry, academia and government. The celebration also offers professional development through a variety of activities.   ~anitab.org

What was especially satisfying to you about the conference?

“It was really nice to be able to strike up a conversation with anybody around you, because you knew that you already had something in common. It was so easy to talk to people, more than it would have been in daily life, and that ease was incredibly satisfying.”

  • Chaitrika Budamagunta, BSCS Class of ‘20

“I got to have my first interview, even though it may not went on so well, I still have gain the experience and great memories.”

  • Zimo Zheng, BSCS Class of ‘19

What companies, organizations, and people did you network with?

“I attended many of the evening networking events. Out of all the events I attended, the company that stood out to me the most was Coinbase. I wasn’t expecting to attend their evening event but did so at the last minute and was pleasantly surprised. There were many Coinbase coders and recruiters walking around, greeting us, and speaking with us. They each provided a different perspective on the company and now I want to apply for an internship there! A few USF girls and I even got invited to lunch at their SF office!”

  • Summer Marsh, BSCS Class of ‘20

“I spoke to many companies at the expo, including Cloudflare, Squarespace, Okta, SAP, and many more. I also happened to share an uber with an employee at Google one morning, who, after some conversation, offered to put my resume in the Google database for me; that was really exciting.”

  • Chaitrika Budamagunta, BSCS Class of ‘20

“I networked with TONS of companies at the conference. To name a few: Nike, Disney, Bank of America, Facebook, Pandora, Spotify, LinkedIn, PayPal, Red Hat Enterprise, DataDog, SnapChat, Google, Blend, MagicLeap, and more. Organizations: Women in Cyber Security, ACM-W.”

  • Theresa Nguyen, BSCS Class of ‘19

Did you have any interviews? If so, with what companies?

“Yes, I had an interview with Facebook. I was also offered interviews with LinkedIn and Nike.”

  • Theresa Nguyen, BSCS Class of ‘19

“I had an interview with a company called Viasat.”

  • Gabriel Cisneros, BSCS Class of ‘18

“I didn’t have any interviews lined up before the conference. While there I was offered two interviews after speaking with companies at the career fair. Nike asked me to interview with them about an hour after I had finished talking with the company and PwC asked me to interview with them the next day.”

  • Summer Marsh, BSCS Class of ‘20

Did you receive a internship or job offer? Which company?

“I did receive an internship offer from GHC! I would be a Technical Consulting Intern at PwC.”

  • Summer Marsh, BSCS Class of ‘20

“I received an internship offer from Docusign.”

  • Chaitrika Budamagunta, BSCS Class of ‘20

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience at Grace Hopper?

“The conference literally opened my eyes to see a broader world. I was always tied up in the small world that I was surrounded by. But GHC made me realize there are so much more that where I am and what I know of, and how many people are actually trying to change the bigger world.”

  • Soo Jung Kim, MSCS Class of ‘20

“Grace Hopper is definitely an experience that I will remember and cherish for my entire life! I would recommend that every female technologist attends this conference.”

  • Summer Marsh, BSCS Class of ‘20

“Grace Hopper is a great time and experience. It definitely great to be exposed to so many companies, but you do have to work to get there. Companies talk to you but they aren’t handing out interviews, internships, or full-time roles left and right to anyone. You need to be prepared. Also, a no does not mean no forever.”

  • Theresa Nguyen, BSCS Class of ‘19

Dedicated to inspiring and motivating women in technology, the Grace Hopper Conference is a conference USF can be proud to send its students. Thanks to the generous donation of Craig Newmark, and the supporting staff and faculty that travel with our students. These women will go to become impactful and dedicated leaders to changing the norm of women in tech.

Written by Tinia Montford

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