It was in 2014, I came to know about the Grace Hopper Conference (GHCI) from one of my friends from Mozilla Kerala Community. It was Nidhiya, an inspiring friend whom I met during my second year of undergraduate studies for a WoMoz (Women in Mozilla) festival that we organized.
I started researching about the scholarship opportunity and decided to apply for it. I had no idea how the conference would look like. But I was excited about it. My search ended up in the LinkedIn profile of a Keralite — Nikki Vinayan, who happens to be a GHC 2014 scholar and also a recipient of Google Anita Borg Scholarship (Renamed as Women Techmakers Scholarship). I messaged her right away on LinkedIn asking about her GHC experience and projects that she had done. She was so kind enough to listen to my queries and reply to all of them. Also, she encouraged me to apply for the scholarship and mentioned that it would be a great opportunity for a student.
After researching everything about GHCI, I filled my application showcasing the projects and community work I had done. I also got two recommendation letters from my college. One from my professors who happened to be my mentor for the project I was working on and another from the head of the Computer Science dept of my college.
And the results were out! I really jumped! Later I realized that my university exam for the seventh semester was on the second day of GHCI. I didn’t think twice, I skipped that particular exam for GHCI ( I won’t recommend this to anyone). I felt that it was okay to take risks in life and face challenges. So I accepted the scholarship and decided to travel for it.
Few weeks before the conference one of the recipients of the scholarship started a Slack channel for all of us attending GHCI that year. The channel was really helpful, some of the members shared their stories and experiences from the past GHCI conferences. We collaborated on everything from our queries about GHCI to cab sharing to the conference venue. That slack channel was a great platform for us to connect before the conference. And it was nice to meet everyone in person during the conference.
The Conference + Opportunities
The conference was huge and I met a lot of women who are doing phenomenal work in tech. This conference opened up many doors for me including access to the tech industry, industry experts, career fair and mentors.
GHCI organizes a career fair for women where all the tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc come to hire. Before the conference, we upload our resume in the Resume Database which is shared with the recruiters. The recruiters will then connect with you via email based on your profile for hiring. For me it happened as a surprise, I got an email from a recruiter at Google saying they found my profile interesting and asked if I would be interested in exploring opportunities at Google! Who won’t :) I replied yes and took it forward with my interviews. But the role was for SRE (Site Reliability Engineer) and I had less knowledge about it during my studies so I paused it and decided to not move forward with the interviews. But I am really glad that Google reached out to me.
I encourage every female student pursuing an engineering degree to apply for this scholarship or attend GHCI once. This will positively influence your life :)
PS: I drafted this few years back and publishing now :)