Major Conferences To Attend as a Student in Tech — How to Expand your Network and Kickstart your Career
As a technology student it is relevant to attend conferences, hackathons and career fairs as these would help your connections and further your future aspirations. In addition, it exposes you to different companies you might not be aware of. It also exposes you to organizational scholarships and opportunities you didn’t know existed. As a student I attended some of these conferences which helped me gain more experience.
- Grace Hopper conference: The Grace Hopper conference is also held once a year. However it is held every fall as opposed to the spring like NSBE. As a result of the pandemic, it was held online last year. However, the year before it was held in Orlando Florida. Grace Hopper conference is for women in computing and usually has about 20,000 or women in attendance. At the conference, there are more than 200 companies seeking to hire women in tech. The Grace Hopper conference is one of the best ways to get an internship because as opposed to the five step interview process to land a job in tech there are usually two steps to getting a job during a conference. The scholarship for the Grace Hopper begins in the springs and the deadline is usually sometime in March or April. Since the Grace Hopper is pretty expensive the scholarship covers both the cost of attendance, accommodation and flights. I actually got my second internship which gave way to my current job at Grace Hopper. It was an interesting experience because I did not know I was going to get that position. But I leveraged the opportunity I had at that conference and got a position at a Fortune 500 company. To know more, you can read the full story here.
- Tapia Conference: The Tapia conference is also another conference for students in tech. It has less students in attendance as opposed to its counterparts (about 2000). The Tapia is a computing conference to promote diversity and there is also the scholarship opportunity to apply for. It was founded in 2001 in honor of a mathematician named Richard Tapia.
- NSBE: NSBE stands for National Society for black engineers. It is hosted yearly each spring and has about 20,000 people in attendance. Anyone can attend the NSBE convention, although it is advisable to register as a member to reduce conference cost. At the NSBE conferences, a lot of companies are seeking to hire people of color. I had my first internship interview for VISA at NSBE, and although I did not get the position, it gave me the needed experience on how tech interviews go. At the conference, I was fortunate to meet other people who shared the same aspirations as I did.
- IRTS: The IRTS multicultural career workshop is held annually in New York, during the winter. However since the start of the pandemic it has been moved to a virtual event. Although it is not specifically a technology conference, it has recruiters who are interested in tech students too. The IRTS is media focused, and most companies in attendance are media companies. The IRTS also provides a competitive summer fellowship for accepted applicants. Summer fellows are given free accommodation and feeding in addition to an internship position which they are paid for. Although I was not accepted as a summer fellow, I attend the multicultural career workshop thrice and can attest that it was life changing.
- SWE: Society of women engineers is another major conference for students in technology. It is not just for students, but also for career women in tech. The conference is always held during the fall, in the month of October
Conferences are the best places to not just build connections, but also to have interviews. The advantage of being interviewed at conferences is that you tend to bypass the five stages of the interview process. Usually during tech interviews there are about two behavioral stages and about three technical stages. However if you interview at a conference, a career fair or even at a Hackathon these 5 to 6 stages get broken down to three stages. In addition the questions that you get asked would not be as tough as it would be if you were following the standard process. Therefore as an international student (and a student in tech), it is imperative that you attend as many conferences, career fairs and hackathons as possible. It is an opportunity to meet people of liked minds it is also an opportunity to increase your network.
Are you interested in studying in the United States, or are you an incoming freshman in a US college? Do you love stories on financial growth or fiction? Be sure to check out my Instagram, YouTube and website where I document my experiences.