Attending GHC for the first time? Here are some useful tips!

It is October! It is the time when the Grace Hopper Celebration is started 🙂

In this blog post, I will be talking about my experience attending the Grace Hopper Celebration, and how you can make the most out of these three days, which are going to be for sure one of the best days of your life, especially if you are attending this celebration for the first time of your life!

I got the chance to attend the GHC in October 2015 , It was at Houston, TX at that time, and of course hosted at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which is a huge convention center to host all these women in computing (12,000 women at my time), who will be attending lectures, sessions and main keynotes during the event.

I was honored to get Arab Women in Computing scholarship to attend the GHC, with sponsorship of Qatar Computing Research Institute, which granted 6 Arab women to attend the GHC in fields of industry, academic, entrepreneurship and students.

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ArabWIC Reception at GHC 2015

Attending this event was one of the best things happened in my life, it was the most diverse and huge event I had seen. I met huge number of women, from different backgrounds, where were there in one place, sharing same passion in technology.

If you are attending the GHC this year, and it is your first time, you are probably asking yourself how this experience is going to be different than previous conferences and events? But trust me , it is different. Therefore, I summarized few advises from my experience to help you make the most out of the event 😀

  1. You are registered officially now for the event, so you have your registration info printed, and you know where you’re going to stay, and of course you have your flight tickets reserved. I advise you to take a look at your hotel accommodation and check the distance from the event location to the hotel. However, because you will be spending all the days in the GHC halls, you won’t probably need to go around the event halls during the day, but for any reason you need to walk from the hotel to the event, there should be buses waiting for the attendees in front of the hotels taking you to the event location all days long, and the same on the way back from the event location to the hotels.
  2. When packing for the trip, I advise you pack light. Houston’s weather is hot and humid in October. However, it may get cold at night or inside the event halls, so bring a jacket. Other than that I suggest to bring light clothes and some layers. The dress code is formal or semi-formal, be ready to meet women from different backgrounds and sometimes you will get introduced to important people. Wear comfortable shoes, because you will walk a lot.
  3. Conference agenda: believe me it is huge! Therefore, you need to install the GHC app, which should be sent to your email as soon as the conference is going to start, install it, login, and start checking schedule. Also you can check other attendees and speakers profiles. In addition, it is time to customize your own event agenda. In the app, you can choose the sessions you want to attend, and add them to your own customized agenda, so you can access them easily from the phone, receive updates, find the room locations for these sessions and more information about them.
  4. Because the event sessions are so many, make sure to write down or follow the sessions you want to attend in the app. Also, always have additional alternative session to attend in case the first session you want to join is full. Believe me this happens a lot, especially if you are a student and you want to attend the speed mentoring tables.
  5. Main Keynotes: awesome place to be. On all the three days of the event, there are main keynotes, in the morning and in the afternoon. Make sure you go to most of the keynotes, unless there is an important session to attend.  It is inspiring, changing  experience and amazing. In the keynotes main room, you will meet thousands of women all in one main hall, and there are giant screens every few rows showing the main speakers talks, so don’t miss it. From 2015 year, I liked the most Megan Smith, Susan Wojcicki, and Sheryl Sandberg talks.
  6. Print out copies of your resume and bring your business cards.
  7. One of the best things to check at the GHC, is the Career Booth. It is useful in general , but be careful not to waste all your time there!In this place you have the chance to meet with high tech companies, so it is a great chance to meet recruiters if you are willing to find a great job at international company, such as FB, Google, Cisco, Twitter, Amazon, LinkedIn etc.
  8. Upload your resume! In order to have onsite interviews during the event, some companies look at the attendees resumes before the event, and they start sending emails including coding challenges, or potential initial interviews at the career booth. Therefore, make sure to upload your updated resume to the GHC database, once you finished the registration.
  9. Practice for the job interviews before the event! If you are willing to have an onsite job interview, you need to be prepared. Therefore, you need to review data structures and algorithms concepts, practice problem solving skills, and write code in your preferred language. You can check HackerRank and InterviewBits , these are useful websites.
  10. Note that, not all the interviews happens onsite in the event, however you can build connections and networks, and this will keep your resume in the companies email list, and they will continue to send information about jobs interviews and offers even after the GHC event.
  11. If you are interested in graduate studies, you can also find universities which promotes their technical graduate programs. Therefore, if you are looking into this opportunity, go to their place in the career booth and check what programs or scholarships they offer.
  12. Community events during GHC! I was honored to attend the community gathering event for ArabWIC (Arab Women in Computing) – ArabWIC Reception, where we had a chance to meet, discuss ways to improve Arab women skills and technical expertise, and to network and learn more about ArabWIC organization and activities. There were similar events for other communities within the GHC. Therefore, make sure to attend one based on your interest, you will find inspiring women to network with and to share same interests.
  13. Volunteering at the ArabWIC booth was very nice experience, I talked to many Arab women who attended the GHC, and we managed to have speed mentoring tables at the career booth, focused on industry, entrepreneurship and students helping whoever attended to find better answers to their questions.

Finally, thanks for all the inspiring amazing women I met at the GHC and at ArabWIC, they are all amazing friends and colleagues. 🙂 Special thanks to Sana’ Odeh, Kaoutar El Maghraoui, Eman Fituri, Manar Abu Talib, Houda Chakiri, Houda Bouamor, Farah Shammout, Soumow Atitallah, Soumia Djoudjou, Bouchra Bouqata, Yasmin Anwar and Balsam Alkouz.

I hope you find my information helpful and useful for you. If you attended the GHC before, or if you’re attending it this year, I would love to hear your experiences and adventure there. Come check more information about ArabWIC online and if you like to hang out with us, don’t forget to join ArabWIC FB group.

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Mozilla Tech Speaker Meetup in Berlin!

One month ago, in September, I spent my weekend in Berlin City, visiting the continent of Europe for the first time in my life, attending the Mozilla Tech Speaker meetup, together with Mozilla Tech Speakers from many places around the world.

In this meetup weekend, we spent two full days working together as we presented our 5-minute tech talks to the group. We had the honor to be coached by Denise Graveline, who came from Washington DC just for the meetup, and to learn from her experience coaching top TEDed speakers. We were thrilled by her tips in response to all the questions that come to mind in the tech and public speaking world.

I was really inspired to meet these lovely faces, friends I was used to working with online and had never met before.

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Below I will summarize our activities in these two days, and provide some useful tips I learned to improve my tech speaking and public speaking skills.

We started the days at a place called Betahaus, an awesome working space in Berlin, which has unique architecture and entrepreneurship culture; it is an open space which can be rented to host tech and business events.

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We were around 30 tech speakers, and each had to deliver a 5 minute tech talk. We did the tech talks in the mornings, so we could have the rest of the day for other activities. We had the chance to get feedback about our talks from the coach Denise Graveline and from the other tech speakers as well.

In the afternoon of the first day, we had the chance to visit Mozilla Berlin Office. And we were lucky to meet George Roter and many other Mozilla staff there, introducing us to the latest projects which Mozilla has been working on actively recently.

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On the second day, we had the chance to work on a biography session, improving our tech speaking bios. In addition, we created Mozilla slide decks to introduce Mozilla, Mozilla Dev Relations team, Tech Speakers Program and the Community and Participation team.

Here are a few tips I wrote about speaking, and hopefully you will find them helpful too.

  1. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the talk, but don’t speak too much, a line is enough.
  2. When starting the talk with a story, don’t prepare audience for the story, just start with it. Don’t add unnecessary introductions.
  3. If you start the talk with a story which is strong and funny, build rest of the talk on top of it.
  4. Don’t forget to make eye contact with the audience.
  5. Give your talk at a steady speed. Try to say 120 words per minute, which adds up to 600 words for 5 minutes.
  6. Use useful gestures and try to vary the tone of your voice over the timeline of your talk, based on your content.
  7. Always end your talk with an action: tell your audience what you want them to do.
  8. Use the Rule of 3, which recommends that you always mention 3 major points in your talk, or refer to 3 major points in your story. Similarly, while practicing your talk, focus on 3 main points about the talk, to help you remember them later.
  9. Pause between the main 3 sections of the talk for a few seconds.
  10. What to wear: when preparing for your talk, try to wear a color that does not blend with the wall color in the background behind the speaker’s podium, so you can be seen better on camera.
  11. When choosing the topic for your talk:
    1. Talk about something that interests you, also don’t make your talk too generic, and be unique in a way that makes this talk fit you.
    2. Talk about something you would like to hear and learn more about.
  12. Don’t stay still while talking on the stage, at the same time don’t move too quickly. In short, try to have your own unique style, and use the gestures that work best with your own style of talking.
  13. If you feel you have forgotten an important part of the talk, or you lose the main idea while talking, don’t listen to your brain, just continue the talk with whatever ideas come to mind that are relevant to the talk. This can help you recover the ideas quickly and continue.
  14. If you are organizing a group of talks in a meetup, it is good to have different talks styles and different time slots: 5 min, 8 min, 10 min, etc.
  15. If you are using slides for your talk, make sure to have one thought per slide.
  16. If the info you want to mention is on the slide, it should not come out of your mouth and vice versa.
  17. If you feel anxious about the talk, slow down while talking, try to take deep, slow breathes for seconds.
  18. Slow down while talking if you are not speaking in your own language.
  19. Finally, don’t forget to practice and prepare for the talk. This is so important you should consider it a top priority.

I hope you enjoyed my blog. Big thanks to the Mozilla team who helped make this event awesome! Havi Hoffman, Dietrich Ayala, and Michael Ellis.

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See you in future Mozilla events! Keep rocking the open web 🙂

 

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NYUAD ArabWIC Conference 2015 – UAE

قبل شهرين من الآن ، كنت على موعد مع رحلة جديدة، لكن هذه المرة كانت رحلة مختلفة عن غيرها من الرحلات!

سافرت إلى دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة للمرة الثانية، حيث دعيت لحضور مؤتمر النساء العربيات في مجال الحوسبة والتكنولوجيا لعام 2015 والذي عقد بالشراكة مع جامعة نيو يورك أبو ظبي، في حرم الجامعة في مدينة أبو ظبي.

كانت هذه ليست المرة الأولى التي أعرف عن هذا المؤتمر، فقد كنت خلال سنة ونصف قبلها على علم ومعرفة كاملة بمنظمة النساء العربيات في مجال التكنولوجيا Arab Women in Computing. كنت أتابع أخبارها على حساب المجموعة على فيس بوك، وأتابع أخبار السيدات العربيات المتميزيات في هذه المنظمة سواء في المجال الأكاديمي أو المجال المهني ، وكنت قد عرفت عن المؤتمر لأول مرة في عام 2013، من خلال اشتراكي في القائمة البريدية لموقع المنظمة.

ما لم أكن أعرفه هو تلك التفاصيل المهمة حول المؤتمر والمنظمة، لماذا أنشأت؟ وماذا تسعى لتقدم بشكل متميز للمرأة العربية؟

هذا فعلا ما لمسته وتعرفت عليه بشكل أكبر خلال المؤتمر الذي كان يومين كاملين في مدينة أبو ظبي.

هذا المؤتمر تم إنشاءه بدعم من جامعة نيو يورك أبو ظبي، وبرئاسة وتنظيم البروفيسورة سناء عودة من جامعة نيو يورك وجامعة نيو يورك ابو ظبي، وهي المؤسسة لمنظمة النساء العربيات في مجال الحوسبة والتكنولوجيا. هذه المنظمة أنشأت لتكون حاضنة للمرأة العربية المهتمة في هذا المجال، لتوفر الدعم والمساندة والإلهام والتحفيز والتغطية الاعلامية للمرأة العربية وإبراز دورها الحقيقي الذي لعبته ولا تزال تلعبه في مجال التكنولوجيا والحوسبة في العالم العربي.

المؤتمر كان على مدى يومين كاملين، في اليوم الأول كان هناك جلسة امتدت لمنتصف النهار لتناقش واحدة من أهم الأنشطة البحثية التي بدأت فيها المنظمة وهو بحث يدرس دور المرأة العربية في المجال الدراسي والمجال المهني في التكنولوجيا في مختلف الدول العربية ويعرض احصائيات وارقام واقعية حول حال المرأة العربية في مجال الحوسبة.

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هذا البحث الذي يستمر العمل عليه للسنة الثالثة، ستكون نتائجه النهائية عما قريب، وسيظهر في بحث كامل يعرض حقائق عن دور المرأة في المجال التقني والحوسبي في العالم العربي، ويعرض الكثيرمن الفرص التي بإمكان المرأة العربية العمل عليها، وأيضا بعض المشكلات التي تواجهها.

في الجلسات الأخرى خلال المؤتمر، أعجبتني الجلسات الحوارية ، والتي تناولت مجموعة من المواضيع منها:

جلسة تتعلق في المجال البحثي والأكاديمي: جمعت عدد من الطالبات العربيات المتميزات في التعليم العالي، في مجال الحاسوب ، واللواتي يدرسن في جامعات عالمية سواء في برامج البكالوريوس أو الماجستير أو الدكتوراة.

جلسة في المجال الريادي: جمعت ريادات من مشاريع مختلفة، ومسؤولات من حاضنات ومسرعات أعمال عربية مثل Flat6Labs وFastForward وPotential.

أما الجلسة التي شاركت بها، كانت حول العمل في قطاع الحوسبة وتكنولوجيا المعلومات، فقد جمعت هذه الجلسة سيدات يعملن في قطاعات مختلفة في الحوسبة حول العالم ومن شركات مختلفة، وقد شاركن تجاربهن حول الصعوبات التي واجهنها، وكذلك أهم قواعد النجاح بنظرهن.

الكثير من الكلمات الابداعية، والمشاعر المتأججة التي تحفز في داخلي الرغبة القوية في السعي قدما نحو تحقيق حلمي، سيدات متميزات كل منهن ساهمت في البحث العلمي، أو المجال الريادي، أو العمل المهني في كبرى شركات البرمجة حول العالم، وأخريات أسسن منظمات ومؤسسات بحثية أو مهنية تساعد المرأة العربية.

كل منهن وهي تروي قصتها، تعرج على نقاط تحول وتغيير في حياتها، وتخبرنا من خلال قصتها، كيف يجب على المرأة العربية أن تكون مرنة، مؤمنة بحلمها، وفي ذات الوقت قادرة على التعامل مع المشكلات التي قد تحول في لحظات معينة من حياتنا من قدرتنا على تحقيق رغباتنا وطموحاتنا المهنية والحياتية.

كتبتها أنا آلاء شاهين في 16 يوليو 2015