Spotlight on GHC Attendee Caroline Zhu

Caroline Zhu, Computer Science and English, ’22

With generous support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, CWR WIT students were able to secure funding to take part in the 2020 virtual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), a conference that brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.

Caroline Zhu, Computer Science and English, ’22

What was it like to attend Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) virtually this year? 
It was definitely a different experience, especially having to adapt not only to the virtual format, but also to the road bumps along the way. However, being virtual did mean that keynotes and other speaker events were professionally filmed beforehand and accessible after the conference , which was a wonderful opportunity to be able to "attend" events scheduled at the same time. In person, you would have to choose between speakers, but the virtual format let us engage with more content.

What are your tips on navigating GHC and how did you work to stand out online or in virtual breakout rooms? 
Overall, making sure you have a plan going into the conference is key. I looked at the website beforehand to pick out specific meetings I wanted to attend and ensure they fit into my schedule. Unfortunately, since GHC did not have a career fair this year, I did not attend any live sessions with breakout rooms with recruiters.

What are the things the first time GHC attendees should keep in mind? What advice would you give them? 
Try not to get overwhelmed! It's a lot of information all at once, and breaking it down to its component pieces is really important.

How can the first-timers prepare for job hunting through GHC?
Make sure to add your resume to the database as soon as possible! Companies start looking through resumes weeks in advance and send invitations to initial coding interviews (HackerRanks and other coding challenges). Companies often want you to complete these before the conference, and then schedule interviews with you during the conference.

What is your personal recommendation on making the most of the virtual conference?
Try to connect with other students! A big component missing from the conference was that we were not able to network with other students. I found people more than willing to chat about their college careers and job searches once I reached out over LinkedIn.

How do you see GHC helping in your internship or career search? 
GHC has given me the opportunity to interview with over 10 companies, and receive offers from four of them. This conference is always a wonderful chance to find a role that truly fits you, and I was very lucky to have received invitations to interview based on my submission to the resume database.

Is there anything else you'd like to add about your experience with the virtual GHC? 
Overall, it's a wonderful chance to celebrate the achievements of women in technology, connect with the rising cohort of students and new grads entering the workforce, and take advantage of all the opportunities GHC offers.