Using social media to grab a job from Grace Hopper Celebration

Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. It is produced by AnitaB.org and presented in partnership with Association for Computing Machinery. This conference comprises of tech talks and career fair. Career fair at GHC is one of the best and largest. Most of the Fortune 500 companies, along with leading startups across the world, attend the conference, with intention, to hire top notch women technologists. GHC happens twice in a year. One in United States of America and other in Bangalore, India.

When I attended GHC for the first time …

Back in 2013, during my undergrad, I was fortunate to have been part of Google Student Ambassador (GSA) Program in India and get funded to attend GHC India. GSA is a program for students from Google wherein we act as liaison between Google & University. In my first attendance, I had no clue as to how the conference works and make best use of it. I was interviewed by Facebook and Google, on the spot and had screwed it badly due to lack of preparation. We all, do know that PREPARATION is very important and needed for any kind of task. I believe, it applies to cracking Software Engineer interviews as, it has a set syllabus.

Getting tickets to attend GHC

My first experience of attending GHC with no preparation helped me carefully prepare for Grace Hopper Conference 2017, which took place in Orlando, USA. This time, I was once again, fortunate enough to get funded by my graduate school, University of Texas at Dallas. Getting tickets to attend GHC has become like a lottery system. 18,000 tickets get sold out in 10 minutes. But not to worry, there are many organisations, willing to fund students & professionals. Do watch out for scholarships from different organisations who open their application from March until August, every year. In this blog, I describe the way I used social media prior to the conference to connect with the industry folks.

Preparation to attend GHC

GHC, usually takes place during September-October in the US and October-November in Bangalore, India. Keeping these months in mind, it would be ideal for any candidate, looking for a job in technology field, to start preparation from May-June for the conference. For those, who are looking for job in Software Engineer field, major preparation is needed in Data Structures & Algorithms. I have noticed, many students/professionals ask recruiters, “Will technical questions be asked in the interview?” After taking numerous interviews and haven spoken with many Software Engineers & recruiters, I believe any candidate attending Software Engineer interview, should be prepared even during their sleep for ANY kind of technical question focusing on Data Structures & Algorithms, Database, Object Oriented Concepts.

Months, May to August, can be invested on improving knowledge in Data Structure & Algorithms, Database, Object Oriented Concepts. I believe Leetcode is the best platform for improving knowledge on Data Structures & Algorithms. Practicing medium & hard level questions is important to crack interviews from top companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Cisco etc. Most of these companies ask medium & hard level problems ONLY, not the easy ones. Hence, getting into the habit of doing medium & hard level problems is important to get jobs in top five technology companies.

Uploading resume to GHC Database

Once you are in the month of August, the companies will get access to the resumes you uploaded into the resume database of GHC. GHC, offers an option to upload your resume to their database. This database is accessible to many top companies which attend GHC to hire candidates to some of the coveted roles in Engineering. Hence, it is important to upload your resume as early as possible (around August 1st week) for the companies to get to your resume.

Role of Social Media..

By August, ideally one should have been well versed with many medium & hard level problems on leetcode and have uploaded your resume to GHC resume database. After which, you will need to spend most of your time networking with the company folks who will be attending Grace Hopper Conference. So, how would one know who will be attending the conference? This is where, the social media can be put to use.

Updating your bio on social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin), for example, “Let’s catch up in #GHC17”, “See you at #GHC17” would give audience for your social media profiles prior to the conference. When one searches for #GHC17, your profile is bound to get popped up and get viewed either by a job seeker or a recruiter. When you are nearing the conference, updating statuses with #GHC17 would also give viewers a chance to know you and learn about you prior to the conference. This way, if they are interested to know about a project you did previously or are interested to interview you or may be, even to casually catch up, you would be making an easy way to be contacted by them.

One of the status I posted, to get views for my profile a week before GHC
My status on twitter, sharing my way of getting ready for the conference.

Posting such statuses, helped me get profile views and eventually, onsite interview calls from companies. More importantly, got to meet some enthusiastic women like the one in the picture below.

For an ambivert like me, being extra social on social media is like, walking naked on the streets. But, the experience, I gained from Google Student Ambassador Program of organising events for University students, during my undergrad, helped me talk to strangers without hesitation. Like Christie, I met several others on other social media like Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, GHC Slack Channel & Systers and made many amazing friends. Being a final year graduate student, my main goal from GHC17 was to grab a job. But, after having experienced the guidance, one gets from the tech community, you will not realise as to how many friends you tend to make at the end of conference. Strangers who go out of the way to help you even an hour before your interview.

Getting to know each other

Hence, connecting with folks online, prior to the conference is more important than the time during the conference. Hunting for posts with #GHC17 and having a small chat with them would help in making new contacts. This is time consuming and would not be effective, if you do not meet the same people at the conference. This conclusion is from my personal experience. I made a list of people whom I connected online and had a small chat. But, when at the conference, I also made sure to meet most of them. Visiting the industry folks (whom I connected online) at the booths in the career fair, helped me establish better relation with them. If it was a recruiter, I would end up getting on the spot interview calls. One such example was with Viasat (shown in the picture below).

I did meet Carminia at Viasat booth and fetched an interview for Data Scientist role at Viasat, after resume screening which took place on the spot.

I understand, I have shared a lot, which takes time to digest as to how much of time & energy is needed to do all of this, prior to the conference and during the conference. But, what keeps one going ? I believe its the ENTHUSIASM to meet new people and learn the stuff even without any food in your belly (conference is huge and you got to walk a lot).

As it gets important to connect with people, prior to the conference and during the conference. It is equally important to connect after conference and say a thank you for the time they gave to connect with you. This definitely helps in making building better relations. One of the attendee at GHC shared a wonderful relation she built during previous GHC. She was able to find her company’s co-founder while standing in the line for a coffee during the conference. So, you never know how these contacts will be of great help in near future. Both for you & them.

Thank you note to Audible
Picked this from Twitter

Conclusion..

From my personal experience, these tips and techniques helped me connect with industry folks to get interview calls and more importantly make new friends. Once an interview in hand, skills learnt from previous experience & solving problems on Leetcode is the way to crack software engineering interviews to land a job from the Grace Hopper Conference. Please find the timeline below which is needed to prepare for GHC in 2018.

Timeline to prepare for GHC
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