I recently attended the Student to Stemette all expenses paid for trip to the Grace Hopper Celebration conference in Orlando, which was sponsored by Deutsche Bank. At the end of this trip, I was left with so many things I wanted to go off and accomplish, but I realised also there and then that life is really short and that it was time to stop putting things on hold or just shying away from them all together. I am hoping that this blog post encourages you to just go for it too. There are people who need you to rise up and accomplish these things. Who need to hear your story. Who need to see you attempt great things, which in return will inspire them to go off and do more. Below is an insight into my experience, what I took from it and what you can take away from it too, to break that cycle. If not now, then when?
- Grace Hopper Conference is the world’s largest gathering of women in computing.
- Stemette on the other-hand is an AMAZING organisation which encourages girls aged 5–22 to pursue careers in ‘STEM’. I am so grateful for them.
How I became one of the five chosen to go, is beyond me. I submitted the following video below at the end of my Student-Stemettes mentoring programme, along with my application and waited anxiously for the news. When I got that acceptance email that I was going to America, I was so happy and over the moon and so began the trip of a lifetime.
After 2 days of amazing adventures from attending Nasa, to being tasked with shopping at Walmart where I accidentally bought too much food, the day finally arrived for the conference to kick off. It was crazy! To sum things up, there were 26,000 women that attended overall, which was both mind-blowing and inspiring. Each day, there were a variety of sessions to attend and in the evenings there were incredible parties and gatherings going on. In between sessions you had the choice to attend the career fair hub, where you got the chance to network and talk to several companies and universities. They gave out so much phenomenal swag/ freebies as well as fast tracking hiring opportunities! My top 2 sessions were ‘Why you should pursue public speaking’ and ‘Celebrate Your Achievements’.
I learnt from the first session that public speaking isn’t something I should shy away from, instead I should use it as a means to improve my communication skills; communication is a powerful and useful tool, especially for my day to day job as a Software Engineer. It encouraged me overall to go back and give talks at my company’s internal meet-up events and eventually at conferences. The second session taught me about the importance of recognising your achievements and not shying away from celebrating them. So often we are focussed on the next steps and on being better that we often forget to look back and appreciate how far we have come. All the hurdles we have overcome in order to be right where we are. This session helped me to remember how far I’ve come and to be thankful and proud of that. Although I have just started in my career, I have come along way by the grace of God and that’s something definitely worth recognising and celebrating.
The Grace Hopper Conference has helped me to realise how powerful and important it is for me to share my journey into the tech industry. It made me realise how my journey reveals that there is more than one way of getting into the industry and in doing so, I found myself encouraging and inspiring the people I shared my story with and it made me think… who else needs to hear this?! Overall It has motivated me to grow my platform — Anomaly’s Views so that my story can reach more people.
GHC has also motivated me to further my learning. Attending the top university stands at the career fair hub inspired me to consider applying to universities. I am now keen to gain a scholarship to study Computer Science at some of the top universities in the world. That’s going to be an interesting journey, stay tuned!
Here are my other highlights of this trip. It literally was a once in a life time opportunity.
- NASA — We went to Nasa!!!!! That is all I need to say.
- WALMART — Shopping at Walmart was an interesting experience. I went a tad bit crazy with the food shopping. Sorry Stemettes! The shop was huge. So was everything else in Florida to be fair.
- HOTEL- I’ve never felt so spoilt in my life! I truly lived a rich girl’s life during my stay at the Hilton Grand Vacation hotel.
- AVATAR RIDE — We won golden tickets from Bank Of America to go to the Animal Kingdom at Disney World. I can’t even sum up my experience at the Animal Kingdom. The Avatar Flight Of Passage ride was the best ride I have ever been on in my life and formed our new group name. SIVAKO SIX.
- STSFAMILY — The trip was made extra special with my STSFAMILY. They left me so inspired and made me laugh non-stop!
- MOMENTUM: It’s hard to keep the momentum going when you arrive back from an amazing event/programme/conference etc. But it is important! The Programme Manager of Stemettes told me about the amazing Working Out Loud Circle idea during the trip.This one piece of advice has completely changed everything for me. I have found myself more assured and confident because I now have people to support me and hold me accountable to my words. Check it out to help you to keep things moving.
- TESTIMONY: Share your story. Whether it’s amongst your peers, at an event or via a blog/vlog post. You have no idea how encouraging/ helpful and impactful it can be to share your story. You don’t have to be this famous head figure to inspire someone. It also helps to encourage you in return. It helps to remind you of how far you have come and if it’s this far… then how far can you go?!
- SIVAKO: Rise to the challenge. There are going to be hurdles. There are going to be some tough times ahead, but in the end it will be so worth it. Have faith, learn from the past and from those around you and just try. If not now, then when?
Until next time,Ciao!