On January 22nd and 23rd, I was privileged to attend the Canadian Celebration of Women In Computing conference (CAN-CWIC). It was held in Ottawa with over 500 attendees. There were talks from top industry experts and professionals, a recruitment fair, several hands on training sessions and a poster presentation. I took part in several events and I feel so lucky to have attended. And yeah, I presented a poster on my ongoing research.
There was a lot to learn, but for me the most important were these three:
1) Be Visible.
No matter where you are; at a conference with fellow researchers, in the department at school or in a meeting at work, be visible. Let people remember you for something positive, especially people meeting you for the first time.
2) Be Prepared
Same as the Boy's Scout motto, one should always be prepared. For example, I knew there was going to be a recruitment fair at the conference. Though I had sent in my CV earlier to the CV bank, I didn't go with any hard copy, I wasn't prepared. During the career fair, I was interviewed by 2 firms. One of the firms after speaking with me asked for my CV. I didn't have it on me, I felt silly. I wasn't prepared. In addition, it's always good to have a 3-minute elevator speech prepared in case the opportunity arises. For me, at a conference like this, most people wanted to know about me and my research. I have a standard 2-3 minute speech that covers that and it sure came in handy! For every event one plans to attend, it helps to have a 2-3 minute speech that describes you and your achievement especially if you're looking for some kind of favor at the event (a job, maybe).
3) Network, network, network!
See every event as an opportunity to network and meet people. One of the presenters said she doesn't shortlist people for interviews and subsequent employment based on the hundreds of CVs emailed to her daily. She employs based on recommendations from her networks. So it's very important to always network when the opportunity arises. (There is a difference between networking and bothering people.). Be visible on LinkedIn and build a solid network there. A colleague of mine just got a job in a top software development company in town. He got the job through a member of his network.
There were lots of other points raised but these stood out.
I'm thankful to the organizers of the conference who lodged us for free and provided us a travel bursary for our travel expense.