Grace Hopper Series: Part 1 - What to Know About GHC
Grace Hopper is a celebration of women in technology and this fall it’s anticipated to be its largest gathering yet with 20,000 attendees. Now if you imagine 20,000 of the most fearless, courageous, inspiring and badass women in tech gathering together to learn, network, and party - that’s pretty much what to expect at GHC 2018.
This is the first of a two part series that I’ll be publishing about my advice, tips, and general what-to-know about GHC. I was a Grace Hopper Scholar in 2016 and was lucky enough to be sponsored to attend in 2017. Today I’ll mostly be covering details about the conference and what to expect. My next section will focus on job hunting at Grace Hopper.
At any given time there are probably 3 or 4 different workshops, talks, or events happening. This means you will need to prioritize what you want to do and make a schedule. As soon as the timetable was released I sat down and planned out each of my 3 days down to the half-hour. One thing to make note of is that you can start pre-registering for sessions. Orlando is a larger conference center than Houston so it also will take you longer to walk between talks so you will need to budget in transition time. My strategy of power walking workshop to workshop in under 5 minutes didn’t pan out. Pick a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice activity for each time block that way you won’t be left without a plan in case your talk ends late and your next one is full.
**UPDATE (August 2019): Pre-registration starts soon! You can find the schedule of all the talks here so you can begin planning. Just keep in mind that if your plans change (and there's a LOT going on) you should always cancel to make sure someone else can attend in your place.
A lot of people ask me what the dress code is and there isn’t one answer. If you’re interviewing you might want to dress up a little, otherwise the majority of people will be wearing a mix of jeans and t-shirts and business casual attire. Regardless of whether you want to rock a blazer or t-shirt - wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket! Conference centers are notoriously chilly inside and this is no exception - regardless of how hot and humid it might be in Orlando you’ll want to be sure you bring a jacket (or find some hoodie swag) to keep warm in workshops where you won’t be moving around much! When you are moving, you’ll be amazed by how quickly you hit your daily step count. Just going from one side of the conference to the other will be a workout and the last thing you want is to be dealing with blisters or sore feet on day one of three.
Speaking of all that calorie burning, you’re going to get hungry and tired. This means coffee and food. In 2016 there was one Starbucks inside the conference venue itself and a food court where local restaurants had set up stands. There were long wait times for both of these. After day one I started bringing along some granola bars I bought at a drugstore to snack on when I needed a refuel.
When you’re not in workshops or talks you’ll be in the Career Fair collecting some amazing swag. At check-in you should receive a free GHC reusable bag which is perfect for collecting and toting around all of the free t-shirts, pens, and stickers among other things which is why you should leave room in your suitcase! You don’t want to be throwing out all of that good stuff just because you didn’t have enough space to take it all back. Trust me, last year I even got a free remote controlled drone - they have some good stuff.
Now on top of all the free swag, badass women, and inspiring workshops there are also after parties. These often invite-only parties will happen after the conference wraps up for the night. They are both a chance to network with employees of whichever company is sponsoring the event and also a great place to be wined and dined (quite literally when there is free booze). The hardest part is getting in. Invites will go out before the conference starts. Last year, someone put together a GitHub page with links to all of the RSVPs for after parties but otherwise be sure to be watching your email carefully so you don’t miss out! Often there are several parties being hosted at the same time so you’ll have to pick and choose which ones you are going to attend. There’s no better way to unwind than at a party with free food, alcohol, games, music, and swag. That’s right, there’s MORE SWAG.
These are just a few tips that will help you know what to expect and how to prepare for attending GHC. It is the most incredible event and you are SO lucky to be going! Hope this helps you out and feel free to ask any additional questions below in the comments.
Stay tuned for Part 2: How to Prepare for Job Hunting at GHC. My first time at Grace Hopper I was able to land 6 internship offers and I’ll be sharing with you what I did to prepare!