The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

My M&T Experience at…The Grace Hopper Conference Connecting Women in Tech

M&Ts regularly take advantage of the amazing opportunities offered at Penn. For the second time, Natasha Narang (’18) attended the Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference along with fellow M&T Anvita Achar (’18). The conference brings together “women technologists and the best minds in computing.” We asked Natasha to share her experience with the M&T community:

1) What prompted you to sign up for the Grace Hopper Conference? What were you expecting?

I attended the Grace Hopper Conference in 2015 through the Google Anita Borg Scholarship and had an amazing experience. I got to meet so many interesting industry professionals and academics doing cutting-edge technology research. This year, I decided to focus more on exploring talks pertaining to my interests (like cybersecurity and product management) and meeting people from other schools with similar interests.

Natasha (middle) and Anvita (right) at the Grace Hopper Conference in October

Natasha (middle) and Anvita (right) at the Grace Hopper Conference this summer

2) Who did you network with at the conference?

I met a lot of college students from Columbia and Carnegie Mellon. Many of them were computer science majors coming from programs with a much lower representation of women in their classes. That was eye-opening for me since we have a fairly large amount of women in M&T.

3) What value did you gain from the event?

The biggest value for me was the exposure to different fields. I went to quite a few talks on product management and ideation, and got to learn from project managers at LinkedIn, Microsoft, Cisco, and other companies. I also attended talks on Big Data and Data Analytics, which ultimately persuaded me to switch to a Business Analytics concentration.

One of the unique opportunities the Grace Hopper conference offers is the ability to interact with women pioneering the next big technologies. On the second day of the conference, we heard from the President of IBM on how IBM Watson would revolutionize the healthcare industry. I also had dinner with the VP of Engineering and AI at Google, which was an amazing experience!

4) How did your experience this year compare to last year?

Last year, I spent most of my time at the career fair and overwhelmed by the incredible number of attendees! This time, I focused more on the talks and keynote events. Since I felt more comfortable, I was able to talk with more people and learned a lot from the wide range of experiences and ideas.

5) Would you recommend this conference to others?

 I would definitely recommend it to all female engineers. In a major where women are not as equally represented, it’s a great way to expand your community. I loved meeting so many incredible women from all walks of life with a passion for engineering.

I gained a lot from the talks, which hit on so many diverse technologies. In just a few days, I felt like I was exposed to a wide variety of different aspects in both existing and completely revolutionary technologies. And I heard from fields that partner with technology – ones I had yet to explore in a classroom setting. It was a truly memorable experience.

Natasha is a Computer Science major concentrating in Business Analytics and Management. She is interested in working in product management and will be interning in the field this summer. Her favorite thing about the M&T Program is the community.

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