As Grace Hopper Conference (GHC) 2014 is getting closer, I have decided to write a post hoping it will be helpful to some of the folks attending the conference this year if not all. I was so excited to be able to go to GHC last year. Last year GHC was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota! Yes my city! My company was generous to let me go for 3 full work days and also pay the registration fee which was a whooping $700 dollars for 4 days! Once I was registered for the conference I had a lot of questions about what to expect since this was my first time attending GHC. I did what everyone would have done when they have a question, search online but to my surprise there wasn’t many blogs about the conference. I found couple of pictures and 1 or 2 blogs but I wasn’t able to get the kind of information I was looking for. Disappointing? YES! So I decided to share some of my experiences from last year. Hopefully this will help someone attending GHC this year and in future.
Last year’s conference was held from October 2nd to Oct 4th. All the seminars took place inside the convention center in downtown Minneapolis, MN. The theme was “THINK BIG, DRIVE FORWARD”. Like the year before (2012), 2013 too was a sold out conference with over 4600 attendees, 1000 more than 2012 conference and I think 2014 was already sold out 3 months ago!
I told my manager that I wanted to attend the conference as a part of my personal training at work. My company registered me for the conference. The moment I registered, I got my confirmation email. From the confirmation email, I came to know that there was an app for the conference. To install the app, you need a code and the code was included in the registration confirmation. So only the people who registered could download the app. The app was/is pretty cool. I could connect to anyone who downloaded the app. I could plan my day, schedule seminars and talks that I wanted to attend. It also gave me reminders. I got a reminder to collect my conference badge a day before the conference. I went to convention center after work which was luckily just 2 blocks away. Once I reached the venue, I noticed that the organizers were well prepared. I probably got lost for fraction of a second and immediately one of the volunteers approached me and directed to the correct place. At the self badge print out booth, there were more volunteers waiting to assist the conference attendees. I got my badge printed out and my conference bag (which I thought was kind of disappointing…more on that later) and I was all set for the next day.
And here is low quality picture of last year’s conference bag:
I said the goodie bag was disappointing because for the price that you are paying for the registration fee, I expected something better than what we got. I have gone to many Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in the past. Anita Borg Institute and Grace Hopper Conference is bigger and global than SWE. So I guess I had higher expectations. Anyways that was not a big deal. I would have been really sad if I was still in school though(what??? just one highlighter!!)
Registration day went pretty well. I was glad I finished my registration and everything the day before the conference actually started because day 1 was a chaos. Long lines and lots of people everywhere. It was a bit intimidating. Also getting the handbook and conference guide ahead of time helped me plan my day which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had got the guide the same day.
Read about it more on my Day 1 journal of GHC 2013 here.