LSU Student Experience: Grace Hopper Celebration
Grace Hopper Celebration celebrates the accomplishments of women in technology and provides women with opportunities to further their academic and career goals. Last year, the conference was attended by over 20,000 participants and took place in Houston, TX from September 26-28.
This article is an insight into the experience of an LSU student at the conference and how she was able to get an exciting opportunity to work with Disney.
Tuesday, September 25
We arrived in Houston that evening to pick up our badges for the next day. It was a short wait to get our badges and our cool GHC swag bags. The conference wouldn’t officially begin until the next day, but we peeked through the main hall and watched different companies setting up their booths for the career fair. It was exciting because the booths were huge and the decorations were so elaborate! We left feeling excited for the day ahead.
Wednesday, September 26
We woke up very early for the first day of the conference, feeling nervous and excited. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we piled onto a shuttle and headed for the conference center. The career fair, now fully set up, was even larger than we anticipated. I spent all day at the career fair and spoke to about 10 companies.
Even though I spent the better part of the day at the career fair, I still only managed to speak only half of the companies I wanted to explore. Still, I set up interviews with ThoughtWorks, Disney, and Honeywell. I also discovered that some companies, like Honeywell, allow you to work for them and pursue an advanced degree. It’s a good idea to talk to people, even if you’re unsure about a company, as they may surprise you! My ThoughtWorks interview was scheduled later that day, at 2:15pm. The interview hall was just as large as the career fair and filled with make-shift rooms separated by thick cloth curtains. Surprisingly, you couldn’t hear others interviewing, even in your own room. The silence was a little intimidating. I was interviewed by two women. They began with questions about my resume and projects. Then, they asked me technical questions about object-oriented programming and a few questions about using those techniques to create a storage facility for a pet store. The career fair ended at five in the evening, and I was happy to go back to the hotel and rest. Some of the other girls that attended GHC went to invite-only events, one held by Amazon. That night, we went to enjoy some of the restaurants in Houston: we had Ethiopian food for dinner and Nutella and strawberry crepes for dessert!
Thursday, September 27
In the morning, I spent some time at the career fair speaking to gaming companies. Most of them weren’t doing interviews, but encouraged me to apply online and gave me valuable advice on making myself more marketable to different companies. I began studying for my Disney interview at noon. After two hours, I headed to the interview hall. The interview lasted an hour and my interviewer had questions on applications through coding, backend developing, continuous integration and delivery, teamwork, and even my favorite Disney movie. I was mentally drained after the interviews, so I headed to the second floor for some of the talks, and they were a nice reprieve to the busy day. I met up with some of the other girls from LSU to take the bus to the GoDaddy event at the Space Center. It was fun to catch up on the bus and talk to the other girls about how their experience at GHC was going, and to talk to someone who interned with GoDaddy. The event at the space center was fun (especially with free food and drinks!), and it was a great opportunity to network with people. I was able to talk to recruiters from GoDaddy and Amazon. The other girls and I went back on the busses to catch the last few minutes of the Snap Chat party, and then head over to Google’s party at the Museum of Technical Art. There were interactive exhibits, all kinds of food, crafts, and dancing. A fun way to end the night!
Friday September 28
My interview with Honeywell took place in the morning. It was a great experience because it was my first time participating in a group interview. First, we were interviewed separately so the interviewers could get a feel for our personalities. Next, we were put in groups of two for pair programming. It was difficult but fun to work with someone I’d met just a minute ago. After the Honeywell interview, which I felt pretty good about, I headed to the career fair to get some last-minute swag and play some of the free games. Since it was the last day, the lines at the booths were short, and many of the recruiters were able to spend more time talking to us. My most memorable conversation was with a developer at RedHat, an open-source software company. She gave me great advice on interviewing and keeping up-to-date in the ever-changing computer science world.
I was extended full-time job offers as a software engineer from Honeywell and Disney because of GHC. I was offered a final onsite interview with ThoughtWorks in Chicago, but I declined since I had already accepted my offer with Disney. GHC was a life-changing experience, not only because of the job opportunities, but also because it showed me that I could to more with my degree than I originally thought. Attending the conference helped me grow professionally and widen my network, so that I can continue to be successful after college.