Eighteen NJIT students (seven undergrads; 11 grads) attended the 2016 Grace Hopper Conference (GHC), an annual celebration of women in technology.

The trip was funded through a Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) grant awarded to NJIT to modify introductory computer science courses and broaden participation among women and students of color. “The field of computer science provides great jobs yet far too few young women pick up on the opportunity due to misperceptions,” says James Geller, professor and associate dean of research at NJIT's Ying Wu College of Computing.

Produced by the Anita Borg Institute, the three-day conference is billed as the world’s largest gathering of women technologists.

Here, Krupali Patel, Sneha Savalgi and Raiha Khan share key takeaways from the Houston-based conference and why being in the same room with female trailblazers has enhanced their professional development, inspired them to lead and spurred a newfound respect for diversity.

Krupali Patel

Krupali Patel
Major: M.S. Computer Science
Dream Job: Chief Intelligence Officer

I attended GHC through NJIT as a Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity ambassador. For nearly two years I’ve been active as a student assistant for outreach programs, which aim to inspire a diverse mix of high school students to consider careers in computing.

I also attended workshops that aim to improve technical resumes and give insight on high demand jobs like big data and cloud computing. I found this information very valuable coming directly from people who were pioneers in the field. I also attended the career fair, which helped me to improve my interviewing skills and build important industry contacts.

Sneha Savalgijpeg

Sneha Savalgi
Major: M.S. in Information Systems
Dream Job: Big Data Architect

I am excited and proud to have attended the GHC because nowhere else could we find so many women technologists and software engineers come together to talk about technology, research and what it’s like to be a woman working in the tech field.

During the workshops and sessions, I discovered just how much we’re not alone in the challenges we face in recruiting, retaining and advancing women in technology.

I enjoyed the “Advocates & Allies” session with professor Sharon Mason from Rochester Institute of Technology. She provided suggestions on ways men could promote gender equality. I also attended coding challenges hosted by General Electric and D.E. Shaw & Co., and technical workshops on big data, database and data mining.

I got the opportunity to interact with representatives from techie giants, like Twitter, Amazon and Yahoo by attending their networking and dinner sessions.

Attending GHC is what it feels like to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Whether you’re a student, professor or engineer, we’re all connected.

Raiha Khan

Raiha Khan
Major: Mathematical Sciences
Dream Job: Data Scientist

My first time at GHC was incredibly inspiring and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. Being surrounded by 14,000 females in the realm of computing has certainly reenergized my passion for code. In Houston, I managed to connect with a multitude of women from all over the world working to harness data for social good, which is an application of data science that I am deeply passionate about.

After interviewing with several companies at GHC, like Verizon, Ericsson, Bank of America and Travelers Insurance, I am set to work as a technology intern in the data analytics department at New York Life this summer.

I encourage anyone who attends a large conference like GHC to remember to research the companies attending the career expo and jot down something relevant to bring up when chatting with recruiters. Also, know your resume inside out so that you can elaborate on it with ease. And finally, don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to the professionals you encounter in your field of interest. Shake their hand, tell them you’re a student and would like to know more about the work they do—and don’t forget to smile!