Thursday, September 30, 2010

10 Things I'm Glad I Know Now About Landing a Job in Computing


Session: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Career
Date: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Time: 10:00 - 11:00 am;  Session One Student Track

Today I attended the student track panel 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Career and found the advice given by the panel both interesting and uplifting.  The panel consisted of  women in computing (Pictured from left to right):
  • Lora Brock (Blackboard, Inc)
  • Shana Venson (Lockheed Martin) 
  • Kate Kelly (Microsoft)
  • Gayna Williams (Microsoft)
  • Avani Patel (Symantec)
  • Kaoutar El-Maghraoui (IBM)

The group was diverse in backgrounds and years in the workforce which provided a nice body of advice for any woman looking land a job in the technical field.  There were many interesting stories from each of the women and a lot of valuable information shared.  

5 Tips I Learned from the Panel
  1. Practice interviewing with companies you do not want to work for in preparation for interview with the companies you are really interested in.
  2. Take a vacation before you start your job.  You will need this break.  
  3. Do not take the first job you are offered.  Leave room for multiple offers so that you may find the company and job that is right for you.
  4. Don't bank on thinking you have the job. Continue looking even while working on negotiating. ~ Lora Brock, Blackboard
  5. Dress nice on the first day of work because they will take the picture that will end up on your badge.
An interesting question was posed to the question in which each panelist were asked to comment on one thing that she would have done different, given what she knows now.  I would like to share some of the experiences the ladies discussed and include my little "two cents".
  • Don't let a bad experience block you forever (Kate Kelly).  Sometimes we are faced with challenging situations in school and in life that can discourage us.  Don't let those things stop you.
  • Have work/life balance.  Try to adopt your lifestyle to your job.  Do what is best for you. Understand your needs and adapt to job environment (Kaoutar El-Maghraoui).  
  • Keep in touch with your on-campus recruiter.  "Build your network before you network.  Build your network before you need them."  Take the network home from GHC and add ur on campus recruitment (Avani Patel). 
  • Utilize and take advantage of everything you can.  Development programs, mentoring, and opportunities to contribute to new projects (Shana Venson).  
  • Get internships and co-ops early.  Active on campus organizations that are relevant to your field.  Continue learning.  Know yourself and what you can contribute to the organization (Lora Brock).
  • What reputation do you want to have in the company.  Think about that and craft it (Gayna Williams).  
You can find the notes for this session posted at the GHC Wiki

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GHC 2010: Connecting Campuses Worldwide

While sitting at the registration booth doing my Hopperly duties :-), I noticed a group of women registering who said that they are from Carnegie Mellon University.  I too am a student at Carnegie Mellon; however, I am at the Pittsburgh, PA campus and the are at Carnegie Mellon Qatar!  How cool is that?  Same Universities, same interests and love for computer science but from different countries and different cultures.  We plan on meeting before the conclusion of the conference and I look forward to chatting about the Carnegie Mellon experience.

I'm a Mac!

While browsing the Career Fair at the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing, I noticed a great photo opportunity.  Six Mac users sitting in a row!!  Nice coincidence.  As a fellow MacBook user, I had to stop and take a picture.  All around the conference you see a number of MacBooks in the hands of conference goers.  I remember a time when PC's were everywhere (well they still are) but these days, I see a great number of MacBooks at coffee shops, on campus, and here at the GHC.  Now don't get me wrong, I still have a handy dandy PC for some of my work; however, I LOVE MY MACBOOK!

I love how my MacBook, iPad, iPod, and iPhone (yes I'm an Apple junkie) work together in perfect harmony.  I also appreciate the "ease of use" of the Apple operating systems (Mac OS X and iOS 4). 

Mac/PC rivalries are even more brutal that the Team Jacob/Team Edward Twilight battle.  Are you a PC or are you a Mac?  If so, what made you choose a side?    

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Ride #FAIL

I realized just why I need to learn basic bicycle maintenance today.  My officemates and I planned to FINALLY take a ride and we were going to do it today.  On my way to meet up with the guys, I noticed that my front disc was rubbing and that my brakes felt kinda off.  I pulled over and made sure my disc was properly position and then kept it moving.  At the meeting point, I again check the bike because the rubbing sound was still there.  Now the officemates are trying to figure out whats going on and did some fiddling with the brake which made the disc no longer slide into it's slot.  Here I am on Shady and Beacon now with a wheel in my hand and no way to get it in.

The good thing is that there are two bike shops not to far from me.  The bad thing is that it is Sunday and didn't open for another hour.  So I locked my bike outside the shop and headed over to Pamela's for some of their famous hotcakes :-)  Might as well have something good come out of being awake early.  When the shop finally opened, the guy took 5 minutes to fix the problem.  Now, she runs like a beauty! :-)  Lessons learned today:

1)  Don't let your friends touch your bike unless they know what they are doing

2)  I suck for not being able to fix the problem myself

3)  There are adult bike maintenance classes weekly that I should probably check out.

My bike looks so sad and dismantled.  This is it parked in front of Pittsburgh Pro Bikes in Squirrel Hill.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Land of the Free, Home of the Bikers

This past weekend I took a trip to Washington, D.C. to celebrate my friend's birthday.  The occasion was the perfect opportunity for me to pack up my bike and head to the Nation's Capital.  Saturday afternoon, my sister and I set out on the streets of D.C.  The day was beautiful and the weather perfect for cycling.  I have been to D.C. a few times previously and saw some of the monuments. However, walking around the National Mall is not exactly easy.  But cycling....  We visited the monuments then biked to the Library of Congress and got cards.  We rounded up the ride by getting a root beer float at Union Station.  We rode a total of 9.68 miles.


You can check out the route at the link above.  I think D.C. is a great city to cycle in.  It is full of history and scenery.  I would suggest riding there to anyone.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New to Grace Hopper? So am I

The Grace Hopper Conference is among us and I am very excited.  I have been perusing the website to find interesting talks and sessions to attend as well as picking my blogging assignments for the Community Bloggers.  Then it dawned on me, this will be my first GHC experience.  Do I know how to make the best of my opportunity to attend the conference?

In undergrad, I attended a conference called ABRCMS (the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students).  In fact, after attending 3 times as an undergrad and 2 times as a graduate student recruiting for my University, I consider myself a pretty seasoned ABRCMS veteran.  Here are 3 things I've learned from my ABRCMS experiences that I hope to use at GHC:

  1. Plan ahead:  There are a number of times when I have gotten to a conference or networking function and realized that I forgot my business cards.  Not a good look for anyone.  Make sure that you plan out what you will take with you to the conference.  If you are presenting, guard your poster/powerpoint with your life.  Just recently I managed to accidentally leave my poster at the security gate of the Pittsburgh International Airport. Fellow blogger Gail has a great entry on tips on planning for the conference.  You can find her advice at Getting Ready For a Conference
  2. Attend the Conference:  Conferences are great places to learn about new fields, meet new people, and connect with potential employers, collaborators, and/or friends.  The key to taking advantage of potential opportunities is to ATTEND THE CONFERENCE.  Simple concept, I know, but sometimes I feel the need to state the obvious.  
  3. Elevator Pitch: You never know when you will find yourself in an elevator with or standing next to a potential employer. Have a short introduction of yourself prepared. Keep it short, sweet, and interesting.  If your 90 seconds go over well, maybe you would piqued enough interest to continue the conversation. ~ Make it better ~ Got an iPad (or similar mobile device)? Upload a copy of your most recent poster to display your research if the opportunity presents itself. 
Now to all you seasoned GHC vets :-)  Please comment on this post with advice for making the most of the Grace Hopper conference.  I'm sure all the newbies like myself as well as others could appreciate the advice. 

See you in Atlanta! 

Photo credits to 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm a Hopper!!!

There will be a little change in pace for the blog for the next few weeks.  I will be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing and have been selected as a Hopper Volunteer + Blogger!!! Yippie!!! Please follow me as I keep you up to date on the happenings of the conference.  This will be my first time attending and I am VERY excited about meeting new people and hearing about cool research.  If you would like to know more about the Grace Hopper organization and the conference, you can check us out at:

Or if you are more into the social networking scene, you can follow at the site of your choice:

Now that's how to stay connected.  You can also follow me via this blog or Twitter @callMeDrTaylor.

Hope to see you at GHC10!!!!

Rolling with Reva

Sunday my friend Reva and I set out on a bike ride on the Pittsburgh trails. I was uber excited about the cooler weather because I got to wear my new gear! Finally! After a pit stop to REI to put air in my tires, we head down to Washington Landing where we had lunch at a nice little cafe. We met a really nice fella who told us of a lot of cool bike rides in the Pittsburgh and Ohio areas. Hopefully we can make a couple of trips before the Winter sets in. After eating, we head down to the Strip District to pick up some produce. All in all we rode 13.75 miles. You can check out the route here at:

Gotta love the Pearl Izumi.