Over half of the University of Chicago’s Computer Science Department undergraduate students who attended this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration walked away with at least one job offer. The department helped sponsor 14 students attending the three-day event in Orlando, Florida, with nine of them receiving offers from big-name companies such as Audible, Dropbox, Northrop Grumman, and Salesforce.

UChicago students Abigail Barnes (left) and Tara Chugh (right) attend a SpaceX event at the Grace Hopper Conference.

The annual conference “aims to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront and highlights the contributions of women to the tech world.” This was the fifth year UChicago CS students were able to learn from leaders, including CEOs, White House staff, activists, and professional athletes. It is currently the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, with this year offering more than 200 in-person and virtual sessions for registered attendees.

“I think the most distinct moment for me was walking into the conference on the first day,” fourth-year student, Renee Huang, recalled. “The sheer size of the conference with the number of people and activities going on was jaw-dropping. You hear numbers about how popular it gets but it’s nothing like being there in person. I enjoyed walking around the booths and also attending some of the post-conference events that companies would host. I was able to meet many people!”

In addition to participating in the conference’s academic sessions, workshops, and networking events, students had the opportunity to attend interviews with 38 of the top companies in the tech industry. Brianne Caplan, Program Director for Computer Science at UChicago Career Development, helped prepare students by offering pre-conference workshops on what to expect and invited former GHC alums to speak on their experience. She also accompanied students to Orlando for additional support.

Other resources allowed students to connect with potential employers before the conference.
Mingyan Wang, a third-year student who received an offer from Audible, took advantage of being able to share her resume early. “The resume database was an extremely helpful resource,” said Wang. “I was reached out to by the recruiter from Audible through this resume database at the beginning of August and finished the interview process by the start of September.”

On-site interviews weren’t the only highlight for students. For those not looking to land a new career, it was still beneficial to gain exposure and receive advice from experts. Third-year student Kseniia Korotenko, said, “I came to the in-person expo with a goal not so much to find a job, but to get to talk to professionals in this subfield, pick their brains, explore career opportunities, and draft a roadmap: what skills, experiences, and expertise I need to grow in order to get my dream job, and HOW I can do it. The extent to which world-class professionals were approachable and happy to chat with me and give me advice was an incredible surprise. I got to talk to engineering experts, and their advice basically helped me better define and plan my future career. And we got to know each other and exchange contacts!”

For third-year student Anjali Pullabhotla, the conference allowed her to explore new areas of computer science. “Quantum computing session was a super great introduction to something I haven’t studied that much in school, and really made me think. In general, the Expo Hall was a great place to meet recruiters and discover companies.”

The opportunities and experiences the Grace Hopper Celebration provides for attendees can be invaluable for leveraging careers and closing the gender gap in technology. For more information about the conference, you can visit ghc.anitab.org or email Brianne Caplan at UChicago Career Development.

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