As I sit snuggled in the blankets of my hotel bed, I have never felt more tired or ready to be off my feet. I’ve ironically continually offered the advice, “Take it easy! Remember, conventions are a marathon, not a race!” to other first timers only to have forgotten that myself.
After sleeping in as a means of self-care after taking on too much yesterday, I hit the ground running shortly after the keynote finished. As my friend, convention-roommate, and “work-wife,” Lizzie Molloy, and I parted ways for the first time long term since we left NY, my first session of the day was “Why and How to Prepare for Hackathons” presented by Moderator: Kaoutar El Maghraoui, Research Scientist, IBM, Sana Odeh, Professor NYU, Shaila Pervin, Research Staff Member, IBM, Xiaodan (Sally) Zhang, Software Engineer, Apple. You can read more about that experience here.
Shortly after her interview with BNY Mellon, Lizzie and I reunited to go to our next session of the day: a 2-hour workshop called “Capture the Flag: Learning to Hack for Fun and Profit.” You can also read about that experience in another post here (as soon as I get around to writing it!).
Again, running from one event to the next, Lizzie (remembering my incessant self-care advice I kept forgetting for myself) snagged us a couple sandwiches so that I could participate in the Speed Mentoring. I was at a table of almost entirely Microsoft professionals which was really cool to me since many of the most interesting conversations I have had thus far were with either a Bloomberg or Microsoft employee.
I interestingly met a woman whose last name was Anger. “Yes my last name is Anger; my husband gave it to me as a wedding present,” she joked. More interestingly, she said it took her almost 10 years to get her degree because she had changed majors 7 times. This made me feel about a thousand times better about switching from theatre to info systems. Another woman at my table said that when she found out there weren’t going to be enough speed mentors for the event, she emailed everyone at Microsoft who was attending to try to fill the empty slots in order to help the mentees out. Lastly, there was a man named Eddie at my table to wanted to encourage and support diversity within his company. He and I had a pretty fantastic conversation after which he followed my Twitter (which you can do here) and even my puppy’s Twitter as well (which you should follow here because she’s way more interesting than me).
Finally, I had a chance to go to the Career Fair. There wasn’t much time left, but I had meaningful conversations with Twitch, NCWIT, and Plex. But the most notable and my favorite part of the day was getting to thank Ambareen Siraj, the founder of Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS), in person. WiCyS was the first female-oriented tech meet-up I had ever attended and the contacts I made there were life-changing. It was where I met my friend mentioned a million times above, Lizzie, my mentor who encouraged me to start my Twitter and this blog, Jennie, and so many other people who have had a tremendous impact on my career path. If you would like to read more about that experience, you can do so here. (P.S. It was my first blog story!)
As the career fair closed, I traveled with Lizzie to attend 2 after-party meet-ups. One for PWC at Del Fresco’s Steakhouse, and one for BNY Mellon at BBKing’s Blues. Both companies had really great employees who were passionate about their careers. The only downside was that Del Fresco’s was quiet enough that you had to constantly check that you weren’t too loud. Meanwhile, BBKing’s had a live band that was absolutely fantastic and absolutely hellacious to try to have a conversation over. I’m hoarse from trying to yell over the music for the short time we were there.
But our adventures were not meant to stop just because we wanted to head back to the hotel. We successfully got into an Uber that IMMEDIATELY got pulled over by a police car. The driver told us to cancel the trip and re-order the cab. We walked back to the first restaurant and ordered another Uber which thankfully got us back without anymore flashing lights in the rearview mirror.
All in all, it was an absolute marathon of a day. Again, I reiterate to all first-time attendees and veterans alike: it’s a marathon, not a race. Take care of yourself and respect your body’s needs. We’ve still got one more day to go. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!