Carnegie Mellon University

Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston

September 19, 2018

INI heads to Houston for Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

By Jessica Corry

Five INI student scholars will attend and INI director to speak on shattering impostor syndrome

There is nothing quite like the unique energy at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), the annual gathering expected to draw nearly 20,000 women in tech and engineering on Sept. 26-28, 2018 in Houston, Texas. 

The Information Networking Institute (INI) is returning for its twelfth year as an academic sponsor. Each year, the INI selects five students to attend through Women@INI (WINI) scholarships.

Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, Barbara Lazarus Professor in Information Networking and director of the INI, will speak on Friday, September 28 at 12:35 p.m. Her talk is titled “Fraud Alert: Shatter Impostor Syndrome.”

“Impostor syndrome is the sense of being a fraud in your profession, despite your accomplishments. It’s those feelings of ‘I don’t belong here’ and ‘I’m not good enough,’” said Dr. Haritos Tsamitis. “Those who are underrepresented in the tech industry often suffer in isolation, which is why it is so important to tackle these impostor feelings early on in your career.”

Her presentation will offer actionable strategies to shatter impostor syndrome, including crafting a value proposition and turning it into a mantra, power posing and seeking out mentorship and professional support groups.

Meet the GHC Scholars

The INI’s five GHC scholars are eager to meet like-minded women in technology, connect with inspiring new people, and expand their technical horizons.

VictoriaVictoria Zheng (MS30), information security program

Internship: MIT Lincoln Labs on the Cyber Systems Assessments team
Career Aspirations: Work in the field of cybersecurity, specifically involving vulnerability analysis, embedded systems, and potentially even incorporate my love of entertainment technologies.

XuanXuan Shi (MS29), bicoastal mobility program

Internship: MicrosensorLabs LLC
Career Aspirations: I want to be a great software engineer, and use my knowledge and power to help people with technology. 

CarolineCaroline Chen (MS30), bicoastal mobility program 

Career Aspirations: I hope to participate in a project or company that affects the way that people live in a more convenient way.

MeenakshyMeenakshy Balachandran (MS29), information security program

Internship: Visa, Inc.
Career Aspirations: I am interested in working in the areas of systems and network security as a security engineer or architect.

AbinayaAbinaya Hariharasubramanian (MS29), information networking program 

Internship: Analog Devices, Inc. 
Career Aspirations: Solutions architect working in fields like distributed computing and cloud.

As a first-time attendee, Zheng is looking forward to being inspired by other attendees' work and the groundbreaking development they do daily.

“Not only does this conference serve to empower and encourage current women in computing, but it lays a foundation for future young girls to be supported and uninhibited in pursuing their interests in engineering, technology, and wherever else they may lie,” she said.

For Balachandran, attending the 2018 Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Conference – which will be hosted by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh on March 29-30, 2019 – on a WINI scholarship was a turning point in her life. The experience motivated her to seek other opportunities to connect with talented women in the industry, and she says there is no better venue for this than GHC.

“This opportunity to connect will help build a strong network, which can be a great support system for us not just in tackling bias, but also for building our career,” said Balachandran.

Determining one’s career path is one of the most important takeaways from GHC, and Shi says she is looking forward to learning more about herself, including her passions in technology along with her strengths and weaknesses.

“I can find many other women that feel the same way as I do, and I will know that I'm not alone, and find out that my fears are nothing if compared with my strengths,” she said. “We share, we network, we learn, we become better women.”

Pro Tips for Grace Hopper from INI Women

What to Bring

“One thing everyone should bring with them: confidence and tons of resumes. The companies there drool over CMU students! Make sure your name tag has CMU on it.” – Arushi Grover (MS27), WhatsApp, 2015 INI GHC Scholarship Recipient

“A large suitcase because you're going to go back with so much swag! Also, comfortable shoes. You're going to walk around a bunch make sure you're comfortable.” – Archana Iyer (MS26), Microsoft, 2015 INI GHC Scholarship Recipient

“Bring multiple copies of you resume, if you are interested in career fair, along with files and folders to manage handling resumes for different roles, collecting information from companies etc.” – Andal Jayaseelan (MS28), 2016 INI GHC Scholarship Recipient

How to Prepare

“Plan your interviews ahead of time. In between the interviews, use the few minutes to take a drink/snack and go through your notes of the company for the next interview. It will get pretty hectic and exhausting due to massive interviewing and informal chatting. Make sure to be hydrated well and take short breaks in the middle!” – Tanima Makkad (MS27), 2016 INI GHC Scholarship Recipient

Best Piece of Advice

“Attend the workshops, tech talks, panels and learn all that you can but also don't forget to talk to each other, meet new people, learn from each other and let yourself be inspired.” – Saralee Kunlong (MS22), YP℠ (formerly Yellow Pages)

“Network. As much as possible. It's a platform where you could meet some of most skillful and talented women in tech. You never know: you could find a potential mentor in someone or you might end up mentoring someone yourself, after the conference.” – Vidya Gopalakrishnan (MS28), 2016 INI GHC Scholarship Recipient

About Grace Hopper Celebration
The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world's largest gathering of women technologists. It is produced by and presented in partnership with ACM. GHC 18 will be Sep. 26–28 in Houston, TX.