Alexandra Gomez attended the Grace Hopper Conference 2016 through the MIS Diversity program. She is graduating in the Spring of 2017 with a major in MIS.
How did you hear about this?
I heard about GHC through the MIS Tomorrow’s Leaders in Diversity Program. I had originally discovered the MIS Diversity Program on my own when I was looking on the Eller website for a third minor or another certificate that I could get.
What was the application process like?
For the MIS Diversity Program, you can get a certificate by attending 3 MIS Diversity presentations and passing the tests each time. After receiving the certificate, I became eligible to apply to a travel grant (through the same Diversity program) to attend this conference. The application for the travel grant was a submission of why I wanted to gain this travel award.
What were 3 key takeaways you learned from the conference?
- There are so many empowering and inspiring women in technology. You’re never alone. There are women, from diverse backgrounds, who have faced various types of adversities and are willing to help you grow as a woman in tech, just as a woman, or as a professional. Everyone is willing to help you out or offer advice.
- It is okay to not be the smartest person in the room. I was surrounded by girls and women who were studying Computer Science or some type of Engineering, graduate and PhD students, and professors who have been teaching for years. As an MIS major, I went into a lot of talks that sounded interesting, but I didn’t have much of a background in, but I was willing to learn and be surrounded by people who are smart in that area.
- WOMEN (& DIVERSITY) CONFERENCES ARE NOT JUST FOR WOMEN (& DIVERSE PEOPLE). These conferences are based and founded upon the idea of diversity and inclusion. As a diversity and inclusion advocate and Eller club president of the Multicultural Business Student Association, I cannot stress enough that diversity and inclusion conferences, talks, etc. are not just for minorities or underrepresented groups. There were men who attended the conference too! Yes, men and non-minorities can attend because they believe in women, and they believe that women should have these opportunities and that the number of women in tech should grow and keep growing.
Do you have advice for students who hope to participate in the future?
- SEEK & ACT
- Don’t just look for ways to get a new job, or that really amazing, well-known internship because it’s what you have to do. Look for something because it actually interests you, you want to get better, and it can help you grow as a businessperson and as a person. Because of my interest in MIS, tech, and diversity, I was proactive and I found this program which led to my experience at the conference and to my full-time, on the spot job offer.
- BE OPEN & WILLING
- Be open to talking with others about others’ diverse backgrounds, knowledge, expertise, and be willing to ask for input/advice/mentoring because it will ALWAYS help you out in the long run.
- GET UNCOMFORTABLE
- It is true that you need to step out of your comfort zone. It is thought that introversion and business don’t typically mix, because of the intimidating aspect of networking and careers fairs, etc., BUT it can be done. By stepping out, I have opened a greater world of opportunities for myself.
- Prepare beforehand
- Make sure to have resumes or business cards ready and on hand.
- Know your elevator pitch, and know how to make it flexible for whoever you’re talking to
- Reserve your flights and find your hotel/place of stay as soon as possible
- Keep in mind:
- This isn’t JUST a “job” opportunity or JUST a “career fair”, it is much more than that. This is the entrance to a whole new world of unity, opportunity, innovation and new ideas, diversity, and inclusion.
Who were some of the featured speakers?
- Ginni Rometty
- President and CEO, IBM
- Chairman, IBM Board of Directors
- Latanya Sweeney
- Professor, Harvard University
- Editor-in-Chief, Technology Science
- Director and founder, Data Privacy Lab
- Marc Benioff
- Chairman and CEO, Salesforce
- Mega Smith
- Chief Technology Officer, United States of America
Alexandra also wrote a LinkedIn article explaining her experience at the conference more in depth.