Grace Hopper Series: Part 2 - How to Prepare for Job Hunting at GHC
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Now that we’ve covered a little bit about the conference and what to expect in Part 1, I’ll give an overview of how to prepare for job hunting at GHC.
GHC is an incredibly unique opportunity for #womenintech looking for internships and full-time jobs. Last year, 86% of companies fulfilled their recruiting goals meaning this is a do-not-miss opportunity! At GHC 2016 I was a junior who secured 6 internship opportunities and although a lot of it was a healthy dose of luck here are a few things I did that I found helpful.
Related | Part 1: What to Know About GHC
The most important thing you can do is upload your resume to the database before sponsors gain access. The key is to do this before most sponsors gain access (UPDATE 07/16: Some sponsors already have access to the resume database) and here’s why: sponsors will pull all the resumes that are in the database at the time they gain access. Then they start to parse through the resumes via their own recruiting algorithms. From there companies will send out emails with RSVPs to the after parties I mentioned in Part 1 and links to applications specifically for those attending GHC. I realize that the resume database is already open, but it’s not too late! Go and submit your resume today at the link here!
In the weeks leading up to the conference be really good about checking your email. The links in the emails I mentioned before will identify you as a GHC attendee. This is valuable because a lot of times you’ll be fast-tracked through first or second rounds so they can schedule an interview at the conference. Whether it was completing HackerRank challenges or scheduling phone screens, it makes a big difference to be on step 3 or 4 in the recruiting process when you arrive at the conference. I applied to as many of these as possible in order to give myself the best chance of walking out with an internship. Plus, I was able to score invites to a lot of after-parties where I met a lot of cool people and saw new tech. I was checking my email constantly in the weeks leading up to GHC and it definitely paid off because I ended up interning for a company who emailed me!
Even if you don’t get an email from a company reaching out to you - apply online before you get to GHC. Spend some time going through and applying for the position you are interested in on a company’s website and then be sure to tell a recruiter that you have already applied online when you get to the booth. It makes a huge difference to walk up to a booth having passed a Hacker Rank or a phone interview on the first day since it shows that you are prepared, very interested, and makes you more likely to get an interview scheduled on site.
The second most important thing that I did was schedule interviews onsite at GHC. I lined up five interviews in advance of the conference and I made sure to do this by letting the companies know I wanted to interview at GHC. This is really important in my opinion. A lot of companies will schedule you for second rounds while you’re at the conference if you interview on the first day. Even better, it means a lot of times you’ll have an offer before the conference is even over. Most companies got back to me with offers within 24 or 48 hrs of interviewing so on the last day of the conference I spent a lot of time going over offer details with individual companies. It’s really nice to be able to do this in-person so you can ask questions and show your excitement!
UPDATE: I've had a lot of questions asking how I reached out to my recruiter to schedule interviews at GHC. Most companies had a recruiter reach out to me after I completed a coding challenge and/or a phone screen. The recruiters would bring up the next step - scheduling an interview - at which point I would ask to interview onsite at GHC.
Just like making an itinerary for the conference is a good idea, you’ll want to make a list of companies that you want to talk to. You can find an Expo Guide on the GHC website which will list every company who will be at the career fair sometime before the conference. Even before that list is published, in order to have a booth a company has to be a sponsor so that list is a good place to start. Once you arrive, look for a map of the Expo floor and using your list, plan out how you want to weave your way through the fair. Remember to take in to account distraction time between booths because with all that awesome swag, you’re going to veer off course from time-to-time!
If you can’t schedule an interview in advance, take a copy of your resume and go talk to recruiters at the career fair booths. There were one or two companies I really wanted to interview with when I arrived so sometime on the first day I went to their booth, explained that I had already applied online and completed a HackerRank or phone screen and in both instances they scheduled me for an interview right there! For me, interviewing onsite was a huge part of my personal success since I could look my interviewers in the eye and interact with them. If you’re one of those people (like myself) who thrives during in-person interviews, make sure you take advantage of this at GHC!
/**When I say that I scheduled an interview on-the-spot, one time it literally meant right *there. After handing my resume to a recruiter and talking to them for a few minutes, *she asked me if I was ready to interview right then. Although I was a little surprised, *my inner Ryan Gosling said to me:
*so I agreed to an interview right then and there. The #interviewfail is that I was so *mentally unprepared to interview that I forgot the average runtime of Quicksort and *couldn’t explain what a static method was. Moral of the story is, be prepared for some *serious #fails but don’t let them get to you! Take a lap around the career floor, grab *some food and clear your head. Fails happen to everyone and it’s good to use it as a **/learning opportunity, don’t get hung up on it!
Related | How to Prepare for a Technical Interview
This next bit of advice is an approach that I took and personally recommend: apply to a wide variety of companies and stay open-minded. By keeping an open mind I talked to just about any company I could which allowed me to get a feel for where I felt I would fit in best. You might stumble into the perfect job that you would never have learned about otherwise!
Make sure to take plenty of copies of your resume. Each company I talked to wanted a copy and I needed to give each interviewer a copy. I printed out 50 which seems excessive, but by the time I ended the conference I only had 7 leftover. If you do run out you’ll have to either spend money at FedEx printing additional resumes or spend time at the your hotel. It’s worth it to take extra since they are light and don’t take up a lot of room.
This last tip I’m sure some people will say isn’t necessary but I dressed the part. Each company will specify a dress code for interviews and it’s definitely true some are more casual than others, but in my opinion you can never be overdressed. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort - since you will be at the conference all day - but putting in a little extra effort to look professional never hurts! Some people even brought a full change of clothes and stashed it in a spare bag at bag check. I opted to wear business casual and carried a padfolio with me for notes and resumes (like this one I bought) in order to maximize the professionalism. I also kept a pair of heels in my bag since being tall in interviews gives me confidence but I don’t recommend wearing them for long amounts of time! If you do, make sure to keep an emergency blister kit with you!
Last but not least, have fun and make friends. There are a lot of amazing women who will be at this conference and you never know who you could end up sitting next to in a workshop or at lunch. I met so many AMAZING women at GHC and a lot of them ended up becoming close friends! As an introvert I totally understand being overwhelmed talking to new people, but a trick I use is to count to three and go for it. Keep your phone or notebook handy for jotting down names and emails and or give them a business card. Vistaprint will allow you to print 100 nice ones for pretty cheap and you can use them in the future too. If you decide to get business cards, I also recommend getting a business card holder (like this one) so they don’t get bent or lost underneath all of your swag!
At the end of the day, be yourself, be confident and go get that job or internship!
I didn't cover a lot of specifics of job hunting so you should stay tuned for my next series where I’ll cover everything from acing a tech interview to how to build a perfect resume. Follow me on Instagram @justacoderthing so you don't miss my next post! And if you haven't read Part 1 you can go do that now!
Related | How to Prepare for a Technical Interview