GHC 2015 with Atamai Tuiolosega

The Grace Hopper Convention was, by far, the most encouraging experience I’ve had as a woman in technology. It took my Information Science education so far and gave it a tangible context, encouraging me to continue with my studies and giving me an actual idea of what I will be able to do with my degree. Not only was I exposed to the current innovations and research in tech, I was able to interact with the amazing people who are developing them. The talks, the workshops, and especially the career fair, were all valuable in their relevance to my field and interests.

I went to several talks, but my favorite by far was called “Design for All” and had a panel of four women in tech who discussed the different ways they designed to accommodate different people or standards in their work. It wasn’t anything very new, but I found their stories, especially in cases where they were designing in or for developing places, very interesting. It has always been a personal goal of mine to promote technological literacy in the less developed American Samoa, my home. The general advice I took from that talk was that patience and empathy are key to integrating a new design to a foreign place, and that’s something I will remember.

One of the most important programs the conference held was the Student Opportunity Lab workshop, which was a place where you could meet with different professionals in the field and learn what they had to say about their respective occupations. I met one of the head data management engineers at Veritas, and she was very encouraging in terms of my pursuing a career in database design and maintenance. As an information science major, it was inspirational for me to see a woman with a leadership position in a company doing so much to solve the issues we have in our data-reliant world.

My overall favorite part of the conference was the career fair, where I met with organizations that I had never even heard of and learned about what they were doing. Interviewing with companies was something I have always been nervous about, but I was able to practice and am now so much more confident in my interviewing abilities. I had an interview with Bank of America, and ended up having a really lovely conversation with my interviewer, an alumni of Northeastern! She attended Northeastern before CCIS was even formed, studied Physics and Math, and had one of her co-ops at NASA. It was very cool to hear what she had to say about Northeastern in the past and what she personally does at Bank of America. It went very well, and I am definitely less anxious for future interviews.

I’ve already recommended the Grace Hopper Conference to many of my friends, male, female, computer science, and business alike. Even without a tech background, the conference was universally appealing in that it was accessible and very real in its presentations. It was, overall, an inspiring and exciting convention, and I’m so grateful to CCIS for making it possible.