Notes from the grace hopper celebration 2011 information job opportunities and career paths
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Notes from the Grace Hopper Celebration 2011: Information, Job Opportunities, and Career Paths. Gokcen Cilingir 12/02/2011. Who is Grace Hopper?. A ship at port is safe, but that’s not what a ship was built for. Grace Hopper. Grace Hopper

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Notes from the Grace Hopper Celebration 2011: Information, Job Opportunities, and Career Paths

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Notes from the Grace Hopper Celebration 2011: Information, Job Opportunities, and Career Paths

Gokcen Cilingir


Who is Grace Hopper?

A ship at port is safe, but that’s not what a ship was built for.

Grace Hopper

  • Grace Hopper

  • developed the first compiler for a computer programming language in 1940s

  • conceived the idea of machine-independent programming languages -> COBOL

  • popularized the term "debugging" (motivated by an actual bug removed from the computer)

Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC)

  • Presented by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

  • The world’s largest gathering of women in computing in industry and academia.

GHC 2011

  • Gathered about 3000 technical women in Portland.

  • Included new investigator research forums, PhD forums, career development sessions/panels, technical speeches, poster sessions.

  • You can read session notes from their wiki page.

Career fair highlights

  • About 100 employers from industry, research labs, and academia.

  • Lots of internship/job opportunities, check out this job booklet for more information.

    • Some attendees of the career fair:

      • Adobe, Amazon, Expedia, Facebook, Google, HP Labs, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, Twitter, Yahoo, Thomson Reuters,…

      • GE Global Research, Palo Alto Research Center, Inc. (PARC), Advanced Technology Labs (ATL) of Adobe, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, A2Z Research and Development,…

Rest of the talk…

  • “PhD says something about you beyond the particulars of your research”

  • A scientific perspective to job search

PhD says something about you beyond the particulars of your research !

  • It is important to know/to be reminded of what you’ll bring to the table having a PhD.

  • Why?

    • You can make sure you are gaining the skills you’re expected to possess

    • Knowing your strengths shapes the way you present yourself

    • You’ll gain most out of the activities you’re performing, having an “active” state of mind.

Skills that you learn in grad school

  • Critical thinking

  • Ability to identify problems and being able to go deep into solving them

  • Ability to step back from the depth and detail and show how your solution affects the big picture

  • Communication skills- with people in and out of your discipline.

  • Time management skills for managing multiple tasks simultaneously

Why hire a PhD?

“PhDs become translators between academics and engineers, they built the bridge between cutting edge research and products.”

“Critical and analytical thinking about problems can be a hard quality to find in product development work, which PhDs consistently demonstrate.”

“PhDs can simplify complex things into something that business/product units can understand and work with”

Dr. Monica Martinez-Canales,

Principal Engineer at Intel

Job search is a complex process

“As a scientist, you are used to tackling complex

problems in a systematic way. Finding a job is a

complex process requiring a serious commitment of

time and smarts.”

  • Find out what’s out there.

    • Read job ads, career articles

  • Find out what you want to do

    • Talk with people, request ‘informational interviews’, do internships

  • What is out there?

    • How to find jobs in science/ research/ academia:

      • Your network

      • Career & Job Center of ACM

      • CRA Job announcements

      • International (UK-based)

    Can you go back and forth between academia and industry?

    • YES, but you need to play by the rules.

    • If you stay too long in industry, it is hard to get back into academia

      • Remedy: Keep reading papers and keep publishing

  • If you stay too long in academia, it is hard to get back into industry

    • Remedy: Stay up to date on the current climate in industry, keep your technical skills fresh

  • Some facts about job search

    • Expect to send out at least 10 applications to get an interview

    • Start building your professional network early, company referrals ease your way into an interview

    • There are so many factors out of your control, so start your search early, be persistent

    Some tips for increasing your visibility/credibility

    • Keep your web presence up-to-date

      • Make a personal web page

      • Open a technical blog

      • Prepare a Linked-in profile

    • Participate in open-source projects

    • Check out github – social coding(!)

    Interview the company

    • Asking no questions may kill your interview.

    • Asking insightful questions demonstrate your critical thinking abilities

      • A Principal Engineer at Intel explained how she gives her decisions largely based on the questions one asks

    Highlights of technical talks

    • Anne Condon - Some How's and Why's of Programming DNA Molecules

    • Margareta Ackerman - Towards Theoretical Foundations of Clustering

      (here is a talk on this work delivered by Shai Ben-David)


    • CRA-W workshop slide archive

    • GHC wiki

    • Mastering Your Ph.D.: Preparing for Your Post-Ph.D. Career

    • Thanks for listening!

    • Any questions or comments?

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