Tell us about the Grace Hopper Celebration. What drew you to attend? 

Yuexin Hou: I was drawn to attending the Grace Hopper Celebration because of its reputation as a premier event for women in technology. I wanted to immerse myself in an environment where I could learn more about the job market, enhance my technical skills, and gain insights that would prepare me for a successful career in computer science. Additionally, I saw this as a valuable opportunity to network and connect with both peers and professionals in the field.

Jovanay Carter: I was drawn to Grace Hopper Celebration because of its reputation as a great conference specifically for women. I had friends that had gone in past years during undergraduate, and I’d always wanted to experience that magic. Also the line-up of speakers, companies, and just sheer number of attendees showed me that it was going to be a great conference to attend.

Divya Pattisapu: Having attended GHC 2022 virtually, I knew what GHC represented and was very excited and grateful for the opportunity to attend it in person. Grace Hopper Conference was a platform for a techie to create a brand for herself in a supportive and progressive community of leaders, and technologists. This was the first time I was going to unapologetically present my story, one with several twists and turns, and how I value every part of it. I was hoping to create my brand, practice my elevator pitch and most importantly, network and be part of a community made of confident and successful technologists.

Tina Oberoi: I attended GHC to celebrate women in STEM and promote diversity in tech. My main goal was networking with diverse STEM professionals, gaining insights, and exploring innovative projects. Ultimately, I sought inspiration, discovered career paths, and aimed to contribute to STEM diversity and excellence.

Tell us about some of the events and workshops you attended.

Yuexin Hou: One of the events that stood out to me was the Barclays’ post-conference party. It was an enriching experience where I had the chance to engage in conversations with senior professionals and women leaders from the company. They shared their knowledge about the latest technology trends and also inspired me with their stories of success in the tech industry. I received valuable advice from them, which has proven to be beneficial in my own journey.

Jovanay Carter: The sessions on how things work such as Disney’s session on how they animate dancing or movement, were really interesting.

Grace Hopper was also very attentive about affiliate / community events, which was so nice. My favorite events were these smaller group networking sessions that were either location-based or affinity-group based. It gave us a chance to build connections with attendees that were in our city or in our culture and have lasting friendships.

And of course, the Career Expo was an exciting environment with so many companies, many who were interviewing on the spot for jobs!

Divya Pattisapu: One of the talks I attended that inspired me was called “Your future rides with Amtrak” where a fellow Indian technologist Aarti Bhardwaj, Senior Director IT, had shared her journey. And later when I asked her after the talk what inspired her into the train control systems industry, she said she simply understood the problem and was able to apply her skills and find solutions to it. She told me to be more open to exploring industries since you never know when the situation clicks and what might be that one thing that excites you the most!

Attending the Career Fair Expo was quite the experience! Planning the booths I wanted to visit, delivering my elevator atleast a hundred times and having the intention to utilize every minute to have meaningful conversations with recruiters helped me understand what companies were looking for, and also what I was looking for.

I also got the chance to contribute 4 merged PRs at GHC Open Source Day! This was empowering! I always wanted to contribute to OS because of the sheer scale of these projects, the contributors and the users, but I needed guidance. I am grateful to Laura Flores, Ceph Project Representative, who mentored me on GHC OSD and helped me get there!

Tina Oberoi: I found the “How to overcome imposter” workshop and the “Women in Asia Meetup” particularly inspiring and fulfilling. These events provided valuable insights and a sense of community that resonated with me, motivating and empowering me in my journey in STEM.

Did you have any interviews? What was the experience like?  

Yuexin Hou: While I did not have any interviews during the Grace Hopper Celebration, I had the opportunity to participate in technical interviews and online assessments before and after the event. These experiences were positive and helpful. The interviewers were friendly, responsive, and provided a supportive environment for practice and preparation. The interviews contributed to my overall job search readiness.

Jovanay Carter: Yes! I fortunately had 3 interviews for internships. One of them was a full interview including technical and behavioral interview, and the other two had follow-up interviews the week following the conference. Overall, the experience was exciting and filled with supportive energy.

Tina Oberoi: I had two interviews, one with Red Hat and one with HPE. The experience during the interviews was satisfactory, with a focus on cultural fit and a review of my resume. It was a standard process, and I felt at ease throughout the interviews.

How do you feel that attending the Grace Hopper Celebration will add to your MPCS experience? 

Yuexin Hou: Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration has been a valuable addition to my overall MPCS experience. It occurred at the perfect timing — the beginning of my MPCS journey. The event provided me with important insights into the job market and illuminated the current hot topics in the industry. This knowledge has guided and motivated me as I delve deeper into my studies, helping me understand the real-world applications of my coursework and the direction I want to take in my career.

Jovanay Carter: Attending Grace Hopper has lifted a huge load off my plate because I don’t have to hustle too hard now that I have one internship offer. It gives me the opportunity to just focus on school and doing well this fall. I also made some friends both through UChicago students that went to the conference and from other students that were there from different programs. It also gave me an introduction into a larger variety of career opportunities that I didn’t previously think I was interested in, like building software for cars and building software for entertainment companies.

Divya Pattisapu: Having done my undergraduate studies in Mechanical Engineering at IITB, and having found my interest in Computer Science a little later than others around me, I think MPCS was an opportunity for me to explore anything and everything Computer Science and Grace Hopper Celebration was a great addition to this. I asked a ton of people, leaders and fellow students, what it was that excited them about Computer Science and heard several new perspectives and opinions. I think GHC is a nice short break from learning Computer Science to speaking about Computer Science.

Tina Oberoi: Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration enhanced my MPCS experience by providing valuable insights into industry needs, current projects, and networking opportunities. I gained a deeper understanding of industry requirements and connected with numerous professionals, which I intend to leverage for future growth and collaborations.

What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying to UChicago’s Masters Program in Computer Science?

Yuexin Hou: If you’re considering applying to the MPCS, I would advise you to thoroughly explore your career path and clearly articulate your thoughts and aspirations in your Personal Statement. Show the admissions committee your passion for computer science and highlight any relevant experiences or projects that demonstrate your skills and commitment. Use the Personal Statement as an opportunity to convey your unique story and how the MPCS program aligns with your goals.

Jovanay Carter: In your application process, think about what you want – if that’s professional opportunities, MPCS can definitely offer you that! But it’s up to you to be able to take the opportunity and run with it.

It’s also great program for those that are transitioning careers, too, like myself. I didn’t study computer science in undergrad—I studied Anthropology and African / African American Studies—so this is the first time I’m taking so many technical classes at once. The immersion classes are great for that, but I would recommend preparing as much as you can on your own before starting, because it goes very fast when you start. It’s been the perfect thing for me to develop an engineering community, go through the program in-person with other, and have so many resources for job success post-graduation.

Also, there are opportunities for you to get involved in the larger UChicago like other labs, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, Public Policy cross-section opportunities, and I’m sure a lot more things. You’re doing a specialized program, yes, but you also have an entire Research University at your fingertips!

I’ll also warn by saying the program is very fast paced, both because of the quarter system at UChicago and because it’s only 9-12 courses. So in order to get what you can out of it, you have to be able to process a lot of information quickly, lean on your community, and still handle applications and job search at the same time.

Overall, MPCS is a great opportunity with lots of resources but it’s also hard work! I’m halfway into my first semester and I’m very glad I chose this program.

Divya Pattisapu: MPCS is one of the few programs that accepts individuals from non-CS backgrounds. So, the level of courses accommodates both beginners and experienced professionals. My advice is to learn the basics of Databases, Algorithms, etc. so that you can take advantage of more advanced concepts and resources.

Tina Oberoi: If you’re considering applying to the MPCS, it’s a fantastic program that not only equips you for the industry but also goes beyond. The university and its programs excel in preparing you to network and expand your connections. You’ll find excellent courses and study materials that provide insights into working on critical projects. Embrace this opportunity to learn and grow professionally.