Optimizing the Grace Hopper Celebration Experience
Make the most of #GHC18 with resources and tips
Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is a technology conference produced by the Anita Borg Institute. Named after Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, GHC aims to recognize, celebrate, and amplify women in technical fields.
This is an up-to-date resource, tips, and guide to making the most out of GHC.
Before the conference
Use alternatives before registration
Instead of waiting several hours to register, use alternatives months before GHC.
- Get funded through GHC scholarships and company scholarships. Prepare a resume, written responses, and reference letters
- Register for a discounted price if you identify as woman of color
- See if your company can sponsor you, or find/sell tickets closer to GHC
Connect with others
Connect with other GHC attendees and other women technologists.
- Systers mailing list, official GHC18 Slack & Open Source Slack teams
- ABI.Local events (List of GHC events)
- Unofficial GHC18 Slack (another one), Facebook, Telegram & WhatsApp groups
- Women Techmakers, Ladies Storm Hackathon & Tech Ladies
- GHC mobile app (iOS, Android)
- Social media hashtags: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
- GHC blogs, community blogs, and the new Anita|Bees blog
Prepare for the event
- Plan what you want to do using a prep sheet, but prepare for plan B. You can now pre-register for sessions, so sign up for the sessions ASAP!
- Pick up your badge early to avoid long line-ups during the conference
- Balance your money spent on food by attending affinity group socials, receptions, and company events
- Utilize ADA assistance and child care services for your needs
- Explore the site and follow updates on GHC’s Twitter, ABI’s social media, or the ABI newsletter
- Submit your resume and edit it even if you’re not attending. Sponsors get access to resumes at different times and schedule interviews around GHC
- Check your credit card’s travel features for benefit, insurance, and reimbursement information
- Book flights and hotels early with cancellation policies that provide full refunds
- Book cheaper flights using guides and third-party sites
- Search for official hotels to receive complimentary shuttles to GHC or use alternative accommodations
- Consider a travel phone plan as wi-fi may not be reliable
- Download everything you need in case wi-fi is unreliable
- Meet a few blocks away to avoid crowds when using different ground transportation methods
Travelling to GHC!
I’m not actually able to attend the conference this year! But, I have done it quite a few times, so wanted to give you some tips!
- Bring a light bag to avoid bumping into people with larger bags or use the affordable bag check
- Prepare different outfits and accessories appropriate for the weather, GHC, and interviews
- Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be on your feet most of the day
- Leave extra room in your suitcase for swag and souvenirs
- Carry a folder to protect resumes and business cards
- Stay hydrated and energized with a water bottle and munch on GHC’s snacks
- Get cash at your bank’s ATM or cash exchange to avoid foreign transaction fees
- Bring goodies for people you’re meeting up with (thank you cards, baked goods, local gifts)
- Bring entertainment for long waits (books, cards, games)
During the conference
Networking allows you to hear people’s stories, witness their skills, and find ways to help them.
- Introduce yourself at every opportunity to meet others
- Don’t be afraid talking to speakers, they appreciate compliments
- Prepare business cards or a notebook to share contact information
Learn from a variety of sessions, detailed in the program guide.
Clusters & tracks
Technical tracks target different experience levels in:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Computer Systems Engineering
- Data Science
- Human Computer Interaction
- Interactive Media
- IoT/Wearable Tech
- Software Engineering
- Products A to Z: product development life cycle
- Open Source: Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) development
- Career: management, planning & development, and entrepreneurship
- Organizational Transformation: range of topics on diversity, inclusion, retention, and advancement
- Tech for Women: technical innovations & policies developed by women, for women.
- Panels gather individuals to discuss different topics with multiple views
- Presentations feature one speaker and often include a Q&A session
- Workshops develop skills in structured discussions or exercises
Discover other activities
Mentoring Circles (formerly Student Opportunity Lab)
Mini sessions help students advance their professional or academic goals.
Students and mentors discuss career paths and personal aspirations.
Professional Development Leadership Workshop
Attendees build leadership skills, overcome challenges, and advance in their careers.
Students present in-progress research, compete, and receive feedback.
ACM-W, NCWIT, and CRA-W
Nonprofits provide tips and skills for graduate students, faculty, and researchers.
Celebrating female entrepreneurs from all industries who are leading early stage technology startups, with the goal of empowering women and/or families and children.
AnitaB.org celebrates and highlights the success of women technologists and those who support women in tech.
Learn about sponsors’ products and services as they highlight and promote their company’s technology innovations.
Learn from speakers, and network with others during first-come-first-serve socials.
GHC hosts a silent & live DJ dance party. Companies also hold events, receptions, and parties during GHC.
Participate in the Career Expo
- Update your resume, and if possible your online profiles and portfolio
- Create different resumes for the roles you’re interested in
- Prepare and rehearse your elevator pitch when introducing yourself
- Research companies to work for and find them using the Expo Floor Plan
- Bring extra resumes and business cards
- Arrive to the booth early if you have an interview
Mastering Your "Elevator Pitch"
So. Grace Hopper is fast approaching, and you're terrified of speaking to recruiters. What the heck are you supposed to…
With a large career fair comes swag opportunities. Expect swag when getting interviewed or attending company events. Here’s some of the things you can expect:
- Conference swag (large name tag, conference ribbons, flyers)
- Company goodies (magnets, stickers, buttons, lanyards, puzzles)
- Bags (tote bags, draw-string bags, pouches, make-up bags)
- Office supplies (pens, notebooks, post-its, highlighters, stationary kit)
- Tech accessories (USBs, speakers, ear buds)
- Charging accessories (USB-to-wall plug, car chargers, multi-use USB cables)
- Device accessories (mice, mousepads, micro-fibre cloths, stick-on card holders)
- Clothing (fitted t-shirts, hoodies, socks, pants)
- Accessories (sunglasses, bracelets, hair ties, hats, gloves, scarves, bandanas)
- Beauty supplies (pocket mirror, nail polish, lip chap)
- Snacks (candy, chocolate, mints)
- Photographs (photo booths, polaroids)
- Tech items (VR goggles, building kits)
- Practical items (water bottles, hand sanitizer, lotion, first aid, sewing kit, luggage tag)
- Unexpected items (candles, temporary tattoos, bottle cozies, yoga mats, colouring book, cards)
If you’re not a huge swag person, you can trade with others throughout the conference or gift it to your friends!
Take care of yourself
When encompassed in a busy environment, we often forget to breathe. GHC has many spots where you can relax, take a break, and meet others in small settings.
Relax and charge mobile devices at the lounge with comfortable seating.
Convene, mingle, and relax with other students in a fun, interactive space with comfortable seating and amenities.
Avoid getting burned out and take advantage of the cool GHC locations. If you need extra sleep or downtime, catch up from live streams, social media, or blog posts.
Utilize transportation options
GHC offers free shuttles between conference hotels and its venue. There’s also ride sharing options like Lyft and Uber where companies may offer to provide codes to attend their events.
After the conference
Enjoy the conference location
Enjoy the perks and festivities of being at GHC.
One way to help conferences grow and improve is commenting on the speakers, activities, and logistics. Participate in GHC surveys or share your opinions with GHC.
Keep in touch
When connecting with others, write a small note to remember your conversation. Follow-up within a week and email recruiters your interest with the company.
Get Involved and Pay it Forward
Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to get involved with GHC (some include invite only receptions at GHC)
- Apply to be a speaker and receive a complimentary three-day pass. Applications also receive useful feedback
- Join a GHC committee to review submissions and receive discounted registration. Attend meetings, read submissions, and provide feedback
- Volunteer for the Hopper program and receive free registration
- Volunteer onsite as a mentor, judge, or blogger and gain recognition
- Volunteer for #GHC19 and AnitaB.org to pay it forward
Have any resources or tips to improve this guide? Comment below or tweet @missCarrieMah!
For additional GHC insight, read these blog posts:
Diversity in Tech Conferences & Grace Hopper Celebration Alternatives
Other ways to get involved with GHC and alternative diversity in tech conferences
The Ultimate Grace Hopper 2018 Guide
Going to a technical conference like the Grace Hopper Celebration from September 26th - 28th in Houston this year offers…
Getting ready for GHC17 (+ tips for international attendees)
Here are some tips on how to make the most of the conference and the career fair
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