The last time I attended the Grace Hopper conference (GHC), I was a student. Now, I’m a full-time Cisco employee and I was so excited to be back this year representing a company I love (which was named the No. 1 World’s Best Workplace the first day of the conference — woo hoo!).
After attending GHC in Houston in 2016, I landed an internship in the Security and Trust organization at Cisco. It was great that I was presented with the opportunity to work in an area that I’m passionate about. Not many companies offer cybersecurity-related software engineering positions. After completing my internship, I was extended a full-time offer and I accepted! (Did I mention it’s the World’s Best Workplace?! So, of course I accepted!).
Thanks to GHC, I was exposed to a number of diverse job opportunities, introduced to companies that were actively hiring women and was able to land a nuanced job role that matched perfectly with my interests. My transition into the workforce has been a smooth one, which is just one of the reasons why you should think about attending Grace Hopper in 2020. Below are three more:
1. It’s the place to be for inspiration!
This year’s Cisco Career booth had the theme “I’m Possible.” That’s because Cisco’s women in tech crush impossible all the time! But it’s not just Cisco — the women you meet at this conference are all inspiring; just talk to a few and you’ll be blown away.
2. It’s a unique way to find a new role!
I was really impressed when I interviewed with Cisco. They wanted to ask me more behavioral than technical questions because they could see my skills, but they wanted to make sure that I would embrace Cisco’s culture and mesh well with the team. Seeing all of the new students interviewing for roles as part of the Cisco team at Grace Hopper this year drove the point home to me: time with recruiters and hiring managers at GHC is valuable.
3. It’s fun!
Both when I attended as a student and when I attended as a Cisconian, there’s always something fun to do at GHC. From taking all the photos (I loved our Cisco photo wall this year — it was a living wall with a neon sign that said “You’re exactly where you need to be”), to the polaroid wall showcasing wonderful women in tech at Cisco, to meeting new friends, to getting great opportunities (I was asked to be on a LinkedIn Live with Cisco this year!), there’s always a new experience around the corner.
So many people were willing to help me grow when I was an intern at Cisco. My team encouraged me to reach out to different leaders and executives to learn more — I was shocked when the head of my organization made time to meet with me! So now, I’ll help you out with some advice.
Build your network — have genuine conversations and ask for career advice. Don’t be afraid to ask, because we all have to start somewhere. And GHC is a great place to do just that!
This article was written by Jean Tu, Software Engineer at Cisco.
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