Seven tips for staying sane at #GHC18

You know the conference is justly proud to say that it’s the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, but how big is that?

8 million square feet of event space.

More than 20,000 attendees.

More than 400 companies.

It can be a lot to take in, and you can’t see everything. You’re going to need a game plan to get the most out of your GHC experience. Here’s seven tips from our team:

  1. Figure out what you want to accomplish. Are you there to get an internship? Find a job? Go to some cool talks? Collect a lot of swag? The best part about GHC is that you can do all of the above (even if you can’t do it all). But let’s start from the top – no matter what you want to accomplish, there are some things that apply to everything.
  2. Use the App. The good news is GHC has an app (download here) that will go a long way to helping you sort it all out.The app has the GHC schedule, a list of the sessions, speakers, and sponsors. It will feed you GHC Highlights and has a GHC Activity Feed – effectively GHC’s in-conference Twitter-esque feed.
  3. Be prepared to walk. A lot. Our GHC veterans recommend wearing really comfortable shoes, maybe even running shoes, and comfortable clothing. This isn’t the place for the interview outfit, either. The people who interview you know what kind of chaos something this big entails.Oh, and you’ll be on your feet all day – make sure you hydrate. Packing a water bottle isn’t a bad idea.
  4. Make time: With 20,000 people attending GHC this year, be mindful of the crowds – it takes time to get around. Use your time wisely – it’s safe to say there may be pretty long lines for some of the conference sessions. GHC offers a pre-registration system, which will hold a seat for you up until 10 minutes before the session’s start time.
  5. Network like a boss. Everyone you think will be there, will be. If you want to meet with companies, identify them before you go, know their booth number (ours is #4383) and map out your day. If you want to meet with certain companies, try to schedule them in advance of your visit.
    The big tech companies will have grand booths. They’ll be dazzling, but keep an open mind. Everyone goes to the biggest companies.But make some time to wander around. Go check out what you’re not familiar with. Find things that challenge you. Try something that’s different for you. Go to all the small companies.
    And, here’s a shameless plug: check out the financial institutions, especially ours. Banks are among the biggest hirers of technologists. The single largest division in most banks is the tech division. The demand has never been greater for people who can write code, build systems, and solve problems.
    Last year, a lot of people we spoke to were surprised by how much we use technology. They don’t think of financial companies as tech companies. Their bottom line? “What you guys are doing sounds really exciting, surprising in a good way.”
  6. Take in a talk. Grace Hopper is about a lot of things. At its coolest, being surrounded by so many compelling and brilliant women is inspirational. It’s enriching, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the talks. So, check them out. One of our colleagues said she went to a talk last year that changed her life. Today, she volunteers for a suicide prevention program after attending a program at GHC17.
  7. Have fun!  People shouldn’t need instructions for this, but sometimes you can get lost in the frenzy of the moment. This is a great opportunity to network and this more than just a seminar, more like a community, one with a very inclusive environment. This is a great opportunity to hear everyone’s story – it breaks down boundaries.