Wednesday, October 31, 2012

EMC Interview and The Career Fair

Before attending the Grace Hopper Convention, I received emails from employers attending the Convention and participating in the career fair. I connected with someone from EMC, which is a technology company specializing in Cloud computing and handling large quantities of data. I was very excited when an interview was scheduled during the convention for Thursday at 3 PM. Needless to say I rushed from the Faculty Lightning Talks, just after making sure I was able to be there for Dr. Weigle's talk, to my interview. I was so nervous but very excited, as I realized that this would add to my interviewing experience with reputable companies and would ultimately help me with my interviewing skills.

As I arrived to my interview with EMC, I took a deep breath praying that there would be no questions asked that I would not at least have an intelligent answer for. I then walked into the interview area and met my interviewer, shook his hand using plenty of eye contact and proceeded to sit down. Initially I was very nervous wondering what he would expect of a senior in a Computer Science program. He then began to state a little of what his company did. I listened very closely and when asked if I know anything about his company I remembered the research I conducted Wednesday night about EMC and their practices of providing companies solutions to their data storage issues. I spoke of the importance of having an alternative to local storage for large companies and he seemed genuinely impressed.

I was asked for my resume and he began to peruse through it. He looked and saw hat I was a student at Old Dominion University and smiled and stated it was a good school. I was very proud of this statement and felt I was representing a great school. He began to ask questions about my experience working at OCCS at ODU. I told him that I was exposed to front line technical support and that the experience has enhanced my customer service skills. He stated that was very important to any technological career path I may take in the future. He took resume and wrote my graduation date and preferences as far as where I would like to work on the East coast if I were to chose to work for EMC. So he also asked if there were any groups or societies I was affiliated with. I was sure let him know I am a member of The Society of Women Engineers, ACM, and that I am the Secretary and Telecommunication Chair for the National Society of Black Engineers at ODU. He stated that their company would also be at the Annual convention for NSBE in Indianapolis in March 2013 and that he would like to have me come interview again for a position in March at the NSBE convention. I was very excited about that and told him I would definitely like to do that. he stated that he would like to keep in contact so that before the NSBE Convention he could pass my information to the recruiter attending the convention if it is not himself.

The end of the interview and I was wondering if it would be as awkward as most are. I then hear my interviewer ask the one question I have always been so weary of, "Are there any questions you may have that I can address?" Now every time I hear this question I normally answer "No, I believe you have addressed them all during the interview." This time I remembered the conversation between Mrs. Brunelle, Erinn, and I the nigh before at Bubba Gump's Shrimp. Mrs. Brunelle said that the worst thing you can do is not ask anything and say no I have nothing I need to know. She said my best bet would be to ask about higher education opportunities with the company and asking about the atmosphere. So this is exactly what I did, I asked my interviewer about the opportunities to go back to school while working for EMC and if there were any perks of doing so. He answered that there was a tuition reimbursement program and that after gaining more education I could also apply for promotions and that many have taken advantage of the program. He also assured that while EMC is actively recruiting women for positions that there is not a very large population, but that this was a reason they were there at the convention to recruit smart women to technological positions. Needless to say he said he was impressed with me and my wanting to further my education and hoped that I would be asset to their company. I really look forward to the NSBE Convention now to see if I may secure a position.

After my interview I decided to go through the Career Fair seeing that I was appropriately dressed to do so. I went to Amazon, Google, Intel, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Dropbox, and many more companies to market myself and get my resume out there to be considered. I was able to get a lot of what Mrs. Brunelle calls "swag" which are items from the companies, This included a USB speaker, headset from Northrop Grumman, sunglasses, plenty of pens and pencils, t-shirts and even a hoodie from Amazon! 

I loved speaking with the women representing some of the companies. For instance the women representing Northrop Grumman were very nice and answered all my question about higher education and even told me of their experiences at the company and how their Master Degrees were paid in full. They also told me how they were promoted after its completion. They spoke about how they were not thrown to the wolves straight out of college and spoke of their mentoring program that helped them a lot and allowed them to shadow a veteran engineer. This Career Fair was simply one of the greatest I've attended.

Faculty Lightning Talks

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The faculty lightning talks began at 2 PM on October 4, 2012. I had an interview with EMC Inc. at 3 PM. Needless to say I could not miss the faculty lightning talks because none other one of the great women in Computer Science here at Old Dominion University was speaking about her research. The lightning talks were 5 minutes talks about each speakers respective research. The speaker's goal was to unveil their research and ultimately recruit for researchers to assist with the research.

First was Ciera Jaspan from California State Tech at Pomona. He research was titled,"Automatic defect detection for software frameworks." She stated that she studied problems developers experienced with software used to code and debug programs. She stated that Collaboration Constraints can cause errors and that she developed a Specification System that is written locally on the framework API. It uses Static Analysis to help developers find the root cause of the error. She validated her solution by case study. She was also looking for creators of software framework to assist her with her research by participating in her case study and testing out her framework as well.

Another speaker was Helen Hu of Westminster College. Her research was entitled "Using POGIL to Help Students Become Better Problem Solvers." She spoke about a technique used to help students learn called Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning. She stated that as teacher the process has made an impact on the success of her students. It was designed with the intent to teach process skills. She said with this process students explore, are guided, then apply what they've learned. She stated the POGIL reduces student attrition and increases better attitude, mastered content and skill. She stated the process helps find out what the students are struggling with and how they stand among other students. Activities in POGIL help to teach students debugging and problem solving.

The last speaker, of which myself and Erinn were partial to was Dr. Weigle. I took Dr. Weigles CS312 Internet Concepts class and knew about the research she was conducting involving web archives. She spoke about her research and how her research has evolved.  She talked about her tool that would pull archives to one place and would therefore allow a person to see all of the pages that have been archived for a page and will also offer word clouds involving the page's archives.She made a pitch for researchers and that she was looking for them and how great a school ODU is. After she spoke I had to go to hightail it to my interview.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Women of Color/ Women of Underrepresented Groups Lunch

Thursday, October 4, 2012

From the previous session about Women of Underrepresented Groups, Erinn and I moved on to attend the Women of Color and Underrepresented Groups Lunch. Upon arrival, there were nice table settings for about 100 women. These tables were equipped with bread, butter, tea, water, and dessert. So for two girls that were definitely hungry, the ballroom in which they held the lunch looked beautiful. The first course was a caprese salad, which I had never had... Man oh Man was it delicious! The fresh mozzarella was great! As we ate there were speakers that spoke of their triumphs being women of color in Computer Science. The keynote speaker, Chieko Asakawa from IBM Japan, captivated me as I began to eat the next course of chicken marinara, asparagus, and gourmet sweet potato cubes. She came up to the podium and announced that she was indeed a woman of underrepresented group. She gave more background information about herself and revealed she was blind and had been since young. As a disabled Japanese woman, she is definitely part of two underrepresented groups. She began to explain that she began working on an application to assist blind people. She stated that they needed more sense of independence, therefore the application helps them arrive to destinations by way of an agent responding to the spoken queries. The application also made the pedestrian aware of stores and other places along the way. The application of course would talk to the pedestrian. The coolest part of the application was that the smart phone would have braille for the pedestrian to key information in. Her story and work inspired me greatly to complete my degree and attempt to make a difference in the process. This was a great Lunch with a great keynote, and I ultimately left with a great energy and will to do my best at the convention an beyond.

Recruiting and Retaining Women of Underrepresented Groups

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Recruiting and Retaining Women of Underrepresented Groups

So Thursday morning began my adventure. I really wanted some answers to why the numbers are so small for minorities in computing. I mean the statistics of women in computing are minute compared to men already. but women of color have discouraging numbers. I decided to attend a session about how to recruit and retain women of these underrepresented groups to further my understanding.

The panel for this session included:
Jamika D. Burge- Senior Scientist, Information Systems Worldwide
Maria Alvarez- Microsoft
Janet Rutledge- University of Maryland Baltimore County
Stephanie Ludi- Rochester Institute of Technology
Linda Werner Campbell- University of California Santa Cruz

Not enough women are finding Computer Science cool was the thought of the panel. For a woman in Computer Science , you find you are the only women in Computer Science classes or in a particular department at work. In order to change this girls and women need encouragement to find Computer Science  a great program in which to continue to study. Another underrepresented group brought to light was women with disabilities. It was said that women with disabilities are hard to recruit, whether it be because they do not stick with Computer Science or recruiting methods not being fully accessible to them.  One of the panelist  mentioned that the expectations are also lower for women with disabilities.

Dr. Rutledge spoke of her research at UMBC, stating that women that succeed in Computer Science at the University level do so because they take advantage of any resources available to them. She also mentioned that a grouped academic environment work very well for women in Computer Science.

Linda Werner Campbell spoke of her research at University of California Santa Cruz. She stated that African American and Latina women are underrepresented groups in Computer Science. She said her research states that there are more women with Associate degrees in Computer Science from community colleges, but less from 4 year Universities. This interested me because I do have an Associates Degree in Computer Science from Thomas Nelson Community College. This research makes me strive even harder to complete my Bachelor's here at ODU in May of 2013. She also stated that the pathway to 4 year universities for many Latina women are through community colleges. She stated that many do not have the funds to attend a 4 year university initially. She said many of them participate in programs where graduation from community college guarantees admission to a 4 year university. One of her last points was that compared to white women in Computer Science, Latina and African American women's parents do not possess Bachelor degrees. This may be a direct correlation to the low numbers of Latina and African Americans in Computer Science. Some underrepresented groups may be more discouraged that their parents were not able to go to college and receive a degree, where there are some that enter the program and encounter a difficult class and decide to drop Computer Science or engineering as a major. 

All in all support systems are key in situations such as this. If it were not for Mrs. Brunelle, certain professors, and a network of students willing to help (not disable and enable) me I would not have gotten to my senior year, with only 2 courses left after the Fall semester. Oh yeah! Best part of attending this session was the Erinn and I received a ticket to attend the Women of Color/Women of Underrepresented Groups Lunch.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My First Session: How to Optimize Your Job Search

After registering for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the first session attended was titled, "How to Optimize Your Job Search." Optimizing a Job search is a great way to have a plan for how to tackle finding your initial entry level job after graduating from undergraduate programs. Being that I am set to graduate May 2013, I wished to learn new techniques as well as how to utilize the ones I've already acquired. While sitting in this session, I learned a great deal about social media and how it aids you in your job search. The panelists mentioned starting a LinkedIn account and beginning to network. I had no idea that so many recruiters used LinkedIn as a means of finding potential employees. This was on thing that is not hard to complete but is very essential to the job search process. 

Of the panelists, some were recruiters for their companies and shared that entering the industry straight from undergrad is not a bad thing at all. They encouraged any undergraduate students to not be so haunted by the idea that most companies want to have seasoned and experienced engineers. One women stated, "We do not expect you to know everything straight out of undergrad. I don't know anyone who knows everything there is to know in this ever changing field, I know I don't!" She reassured me personally, that when I go to the Career Fair here at the convention to remember that I have academic learning concepts and projects where I learn to utilize what I've learned, but that taking the next step into the industry will only expand upon what I've learned in undergrad at Old Dominion University. 

Ultimately, utilizing social media, inclusive of Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs can assist me in my search for job. My immediate and extended network will also help as well. One of the panelists mentioned how a friend of a friend may know someone who is in the position you wish to be in and how networking can open opportunities simply by being unafraid to ask questions and have conversations about someone we all love so much as Computer Scientists and Engineers. 

I am well on my way and feeling much better about my upcoming job search with the tools I've learned of in this session.

Arriving to Grace Hopper in Baltimore Harbor

So I've had the pleasure of riding up to Baltimore, Maryland with others from Old Dominion University. It feels as if we are all here for similar reasons and therefore have a common interest. This being the first time any of us have been to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, we all my have different expectations of this experience. Speaking for myself, I want Grace Hopper to provide me with opportunities to meet other women that may impact my outlook on being a women in the Computer Science field. So we will definitely see how this goes. As we ride into the harbor looking at the Orioles Stadium, I know this trip will be worth it! Now it's time for us to get registered...