So, you’re interested in attending the Grace Hopper 2018 Conference? Great! What do you need to know to be prepared? Read on for 5 tips from a Grace Hopper 2017 attendee on how to make the most out of your Grace Hopper experience!
1. Research the Sessions
Plan, plan, plan! The sessions are my favorite part of Grace Hopper so I was anxiously waiting for the schedule to be posted to start planning my days. Once it’s out, look at the sessions, highlight any that sound interesting, then go back and narrow it down. If you are in the working world, I suggest consulting with your supervisor to tailor your schedule to best fit your career track and the work you do. Try to keep your options to two or three sessions per time slot. It’s important to have multiple choices because some sessions are more popular and fill up quickly. Some sessions also require you to sign up in advance, so make sure to note those and sign up if interested. If there is a session you are interested in that is not advance sign up, I recommend getting in line at least 15 minutes early. I would also suggest familiarizing yourself with the conference facility to aid in planning time from point A to point B. When you have a rough plan of your days, go back and check if there is any free time in your schedule. You will need to build in time for attending the expo or lunch, which may mean skipping some sessions.
Your schedule will likely change as you get invitations to company specific events/sessions, surprise speakers, and on-site interview invitations but this schedule will be a good outline. Remember, be flexible!
2. Download the App
There is a Grace Hopper Conference App. Use it! There is a multitude of features and resources on the app such as a social media feed, private messaging, conference schedule, scheduling using the Agenda, venue maps, and more. My favorite feature is the Agenda. If you have already made your session list, you can go into the app and add them to your Agenda. It’s a very organized way of keeping track of what time and where you need to be. You can also quickly view sessions you have added and click on the presenters for a short bio on them.
3. Prepare for Networking
The Expo is like a wonderland. There are bright lights, colorful booths, and people everywhere. It’s very easy to get caught up in the fun, but if you’re a college student seeking a job, this is an excellent place to earn some interview opportunities! To prepare yourself, make sure to update your resume and LinkedIn, upload your resume to the GHC database, print copies, practice your elevator speech, research attending companies that you are interested in, and prepare some questions to ask recruiters. Because the Expo is so large, it’s good to have a list of companies you are interested in and pinpoint those booths. Some companies have larger lines than others so account for that and see if it’s worth the wait. If not, come back later!
If you are a working professional, the Expo is still a great place to go. Stop by the booths and learn about different companies, the technologies they have available in the market, and the current innovations they are working on. Mingling with other professionals and learning about their products and services is a great way to make connections that could help you and your company in the future.
Don’t forget SWAG! Companies will be handing out plenty of goodies so keep your eyes open for cool things you may want to acquire while networking. I was lucky and snagged a Google cardboard. Happy hunting!
4. Pack Smart
Every year there are many questions about dress code. The FAQ says casual to business dress, comfortable shoes, and a jacket. I recommend bringing jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers as your attire for most of the conference as well as something warm because the conference hall can get chilly. Also, bring at least one business professional outfit in case of an interview opportunity and something nice to wear to a reception, a nice dinner, or for the end of conference celebration. Make sure not to over pack though! You should have some extra space in your suitcase to bring back all the swag you will receive throughout the conference.
A frequently asked question is whether a laptop is required. Pack it just in case! If you choose to attend a lab session, it will be easier to follow along if you have your own laptop with you. It is also helpful to bring a notebook and writing utensil to take notes and chargers in case your phone or laptop needs some juice throughout the day.
5. Be Inspired!
There are so many amazing, hard-working people who attend this conference and make it an amazing experience. Take advantage of your surroundings. Make sure to listen to the keynote speakers, attend sessions, mingle with attendees, and soak up the knowledge!