Women Who Code CONNECT 2016: Day 2 Recap

Women Who Code CONNECT 2016: Day 2 Recap

Day 2 of Women Who Code’s CONNECT 2016 conference was filled with conversations of diversity and inclusion, practical workshops on the latest tech trends, and messages of empowerment and confidence.

Northeastern University–Seattle is proud to support Women Who Code (WWCode) as a sponsor of CONNECT 2016, a two-day conference designed to inspire women to excel in tech careers.

10 Northeastern students, representing our ALIGNComputer Science, and Bioinformatics graduate programs, share their insights and learnings from Day 2 below. (Learn more about all 10 students who attended here.)

Day 2 = #DiversityMatters

IMG_9126A friend told me today that, if there was a conference for Men Who Code, it would have far less diversity than the experience we had this weekend. I wholeheartedly agree.

A common theme of this conference has been #diversitymatters. This sentiment isn’t limited to the tech industry, and is certainly not limited to places of employment. We can talk about how diversity improves problem solving and increases company profits, but I want to talk about how diversity enriches our lives by expanding our perspective and strengthening our empathy.

DSC_3779Panel by Kim Snipes, Lily Chang, Surabhi Gupta, and Mary Hamilton at Connect 2016.[Photo by Vy Nguyen, MS Computer Science ALIGN]

I saw more women speak this weekend than I have at any other conference – and I work in Immunology, a field largely dominated by women. Every woman had their own experience to share, wisdom to impart, and encouragement to give. I am humbled to have received the opportunity to learn about these diverse woman, and am excited to promote their messages to not only Women in Tech, but women in all fields. Thank you NEU for providing me with such a great inspiration!

Hannah SmithersAlumna, MS Bioinformatics. Read Hannah’s Day 1 recap here.

Day 2 = Confidence, Taking Chances & Twitter

IMG_9134Looking back on the weekend, the same core ideas were highlighted in different contexts across several presentations. This morning, Nandini Ramani, VP of Engineering at Twitter, gave a fantastic presentation about her journey through her career and what motivates her to work at Twitter. Her presentation was full of great advice that emphasized the importance of having confidence in your abilities, the benefits of taking chances, and the value of Twitter.

DSC_3773Nandini Ramani, VP of Engineering at Twitter, at Connect 2016. [Photo by Vy Nguyen]

In the afternoon, I attended a presentation called “Discover Your Strengths” by Laura Bellamy. Laura spoke about the self-confidence that comes from understanding your character strengths and weaknesses, and working to improve them. She found that the VIA Classification of 24 Character Strengths was the most comprehensive tool available for evaluating these strengths. Laura also discussed her role as a leader, which is to empower others to succeed. She leads her team by asking them, “What do you need from me? What can I do for you?”

Throughout the weekend I had the opportunity to meet interesting women from all different stages of their careers. Everyone I met was excited to be there and was excited to help others succeed. Perhaps the most surprising take-away from the weekend is that Twitter seems to be a central component to networking and staying informed in the CS world.

Kaleigh O’Hara, MS Computer Science. Read Kaleigh’s Day 1 recap here.

Day 2 = IoT Particle Photon

nu-seattle-paint-night_23944499214_oThe second day of the Women Who Code conference, I went to a workshop called “IoT Workshop: Make your own Phone Finder with the Particle Photon and Internet Button.” The speaker was Clarissa San Diego, a representative from Particle.

What is Particle? What is IoT (Internet of Things) and why do we need IoT? Starting with these questions, the speaker opened up the topic and showed us this interesting and useful piece of hardware that they are making, which is called the “Photon Internet Button Powered Phone Finder.”
IMG_4442[Photo by Danni Li]

Combining the Internet Button and Photon with a recipe on IFTTT, the hardware aims to help users find their misplaced phones. The idea behind the project and the goal of the team is to connect products and have them communicate with each other, to learn their users’ preference, enabling devices to be more personalized.

It was a wonderful experience to hear the developer share her work on the Photon project, and it was really fun that we got to play around with the Particle Internet Button and Photon, and set it up on our mobile devices. Now I will never have to worry about searching through my entire house and not finding my phone.

Danni Li, Computer Science ALIGN. Read Danni’s Day 1 recap here.

DSC_3788A wall dedicated to people sharing their stories of women succeeding in tech. [Photo by Vy Nguyen]

Day 2 = Where everyone feels comfortable pursuing their ambitions

Women Who Code (WWC) 2016 was such a great conference! Thank you to Northeastern University for sending me. I attended talks where I learned (and occasionally re-learned things I’d forgotten) about technical interviews, career advancement strategies, algorithms, and APIs.

WWC is not just about helping women improve their technical skills. The main goal of the organization is to build a community and foster an environment within the technical industry where everyone, regardless of their background, feels comfortable pursuing their ambitions. Alaina Percival, the CEO of WWC, set the positive tone of the entire conference at her opening keynote talk. Because women often struggle to talk about their accomplishments, for nearly half of the allotted time, attendees were encouraged to come up on stage and tell the audience about an achievement they were proud of. This simple act left an impression on me because I’m often guilty of focusing on the things I could do better; it was a reminder that I’ve got a lot to be proud of, too.

I’ll be completely honest: most of my time at the conference was spent talking to so many amazing and accomplished women! Some had been in the industry for decades, a few had recently started coding, one was an alumna of my undergraduate university (a rarity in Seattle—go Terps). What they all had in common was a passion for coding and determination. I left WWC 2016 with a whole lot more connections, inspiration, and confidence than I came in with.

Caroline Harbitz, Computer Science ALIGN

Day 2 = Twitter Round Up

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