Grace Hopper Conference on a Budget: Money-Saving Tips for Affording GHC

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the largest women in technology conference in the world. Each year thousands of attendees meet and gather for keynotes, networking, and the huge career expo. Attending this conference is a must throughout your student career because of the potential opportunities at Grace Hopper.

However, affording the conference is difficult for a student without a full time job. The conference ticket for students costed $350 for last year’s conference, and transportation, hotels, and meals can all cost around $1000 or more. Here are some awesome, but not well known tips for saving money on the conference.

1. Volunteer at Grace Hopper for free admission (Hoppers Program).
An easy way to attend the conference itself for free is to volunteer. To qualify for free admission, volunteers typically work eight hour shifts throughout the three day conference. Keep in mind that volunteers must attend a volunteer orientation on the day before the conference. Check out this webpage for volunteer updates.

If you plan on taking lots of interviews, the volunteering shifts may conflict with the interviews. Also, sometimes you’ll be offered interviews up front when you visit booths.

2. Apply for Grace Hopper Conference Scholarships.
Scholarships typically offer free flights, lodging, and tickets to the conference. However, scholarships are competitive and there aren’t that many. The conference organizer, the Anita Borg Institute, offers scholarships. There are also scholarships offered by major conference sponsors and other programs. Check out this Github repo on an updated list of Grace Hopper scholarships. Also, your school’s CS or engineering departments may have funding opportunities. Finally, you can continuously search for scholarships on Google search.

Scholarships will require your resume, transcripts, and recommendations. To maximize your chances, apply to as much as you can! Last year, I helped out with a Grace Hopper scholarship and after reading all of these applications I highly recommend that you show who you are and your reasons and vision for attending the conference. There are lots of like-minded, motivated, and intelligent women who apply for these conference, so find a way to stand out and show what you can bring to the conference.

3. Check if your internship company is a sponsor.
If a company that you’ve previously interned at (or plan on interning at) is a sponsor, contact the internship program manager or recruiter for opportunities at Grace Hopper. Typically the major tech companies are the regular sponsors for each conference.

4. Find ways to save money during the conference.
: There are lots of simple ways of saving money during all three days. For housing, book rooms at hostels, which are typically dormitory-style rooms, or find friends to split AirBnB/hotel rooms with.

Food: For meals, there were free snacks and coffee throughout the conference center last year (not sure if there will be free food this year). Lots of companies also have after parties and happy hours each night, so stop by and grab some free food and drinks.

Transportation: Last year, the conference also provided free shuttles from popular hotels in the area. This year’s conference will be at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida which is right by the International Drive and Convention Way bus stop. Uber and Lyft are also both available in Orlando.

I hope that these tips will make attending Grace Hopper a possibility! There is always next year, and even if you can’t attend you can always submit your resume to the conference resume database. Employers will still reach out and contact you. If you have any ideas or tips on financing for the conference, feel free to comment your suggestions!