MA Conference for Women 2019 || Experience & Tips

Hey guys! There were roughly 12,000 attendees at the MA Conference for Women last week and I had the wonderful opportunity to be one of these attendees on behalf of my company! (I am an associate software engineer for those who may not know.)

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At the Reebok “It’s a Woman’s World” Booth in the Exhibition Hall

I took the train into Boston and was at the convention center all day long with booths to see, sessions to attend, and people to meet. When we arrived, we received attendee “swag bags” filled with snacks, a water bottle, the event guidebook notebook, and other miscellaneous items.


Tips on how to make the most of the event:

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luckily I was warned of these, i’m now queen of the event
  • Arrive early: by 7am to head into the line or else you’ll have to spend time outside in the cold waiting to get through security and this way you’ll be one of the first to grab breakfast (free) and hit the booths down in the exhibition hall
  • Skip the coat check–bring a warm enough but lighter jacket to carry or else you’ll have to be in line twice and there’s sooooo many coats in the coat check
  • Use the womens restroom: I know, like isn’t that obvious? They actually convert a bunch of the mens restrooms into womens restrooms for the event, but the permanent womens restrooms have a lot more stalls. I accidentally waited in line for one of the converted restrooms for a long time only to find there were only 3 usable stalls and the other half was urinals!

 

Overview of Events and Sessions I Attended:

full schedule hereIMG_6168.jpg

Opening Keynote Session

IMG_6331Featuring Simon Sinek, Amanda Southworth, Yara Shahidi, and others; we were welcomed to a day of reminders that we can kick ass!!!

  • Sinek focused on the infinite game: explaining how learning from our competitor and using what we can study from them could help us become better ourselves and get stronger (and vice versa).
  • Southworth told her story of mental health and how coding not only helped herself but enabled her to help others too.
  • Shahidi is asked a question and answers with how she was taught at an early age about financial independence and how to be smart about money; saving it, spending it, and donating it.

Exhibition Hall (ft. sponsor booths, small business marketplace, and roundtable discussions)

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  • So. Many. Things. Being. Given. Away.
  • And so many photo opportunities!
  • Essentially, I came home with (on top of the swag bag stuff) a T Shirt, schrunchie, button pin, mirror, mints and lip balm, crystal nail file, travel brush and sewing kit in one, pens, magazine, candy, and more!

Unplugged: Reclaiming Balance in a Connected World (POE)

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(from left) Tiffany Schlain, Mary Laura Philpott, and Stephanie Humphrey
    • This was an interesting panel session on unplugging from the social media world, turning 24/7 into 24/6.
    • Tiffany Schlain (filmmaker, founder of The Webby Awards, author) talks about a “tech sabbath” of sorts that her family has done for almost 10 years now where they unplug from their devices for one 24-hour period a week and focus on the present.
    • Mary Laura Philpott (author of I Miss You When I Blink) catches attention from the Type-As of the room, those who love lists and getting things done once they’re started. It’s her journey of accepting that our time is our time and it’s okay to take it back to do what we want.
    • Stephanie Humphrey (technology and lifestyle content creator) discusses how she tries to unplug even with a career that consists of being on social media. Setting time for planning in one period and then scheduling posts is a must.

The Likability Trap: Women, Leadership and the Double-Bind

IMG_6332Alicia Menendez, asked us a question: do you want to be likable or do you want to be successful? Her answer is to ALWAYS. CHOOSE. SUCCESS. People will always either like you or not like you for various reasons and it should not hold you back from reaching your goals.

  • Yvonne Garcia, Minda Harts, and Erica Keswin joined Menendez in discussing their own experiences of having to choose between being liked or being successful in their workplace and the feedback they have sometimes received from it.

Keynote Luncheon: Malala Yousafzai, Tara Westover, Megan Rapinoe

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All of the women involved in the keynotes, panel sessions, and other discussions have all done something to be recognized as leaders, mentors, or just those to look up to. During the keynote luncheon, we also were lucky to hear from Malala Yousafzai, Tara Westover, Megan Rapinoe, and others.

  • Yousafzai spoke of her journey that most of us have heard about (if you need a refresher) and how her father continued to push for her education when extremists who took over their town banned girls from school and how it has developed her into the strong woman she is today. She continues to fight for 12 years of education for girls in countries who are less able to receive the opportunity.
  • Westover joked about how her job is to be a professional narcissist, telling her story about how she was raised in a family that did not believe that the government, education, and other things were genuinely real (instead seen as a conspiracy). She eventually went on to being enrolled and educated at the age of 17 and then went on to get her PhD.
  • Rapinoe was her authentic self with Kara Swisher; it was highly entertaining to listen to them discuss important topics like how Rapinoe was fighting for equal pay among professional soccer players (ex. how the womens soccer team is not compensated the same as the mens soccer team), the upcoming election, and various other topics.

While leaving the convention center, I realized that I was feeling so empowered, a feeling that I had not felt in a while. It makes me want to continue to chase after it all.

I’m hoping to get the chance to continue attending The MA Conference for Women and other events like this! The 2020 Grace Hopper Celebration for Women Technologists is also on my radar and I can’t wait to launch into this potential opportunity!

Raleigh, NC || Exploring & HUGE Life Updates!

Hey guys! Here’s a quick video update I put together; we’re going back to the basics with iMovie because my laptop does not have enough storage to edit on premiere pro for now oops!

I’ve been in North Carolina for 2 months now and between working and going on adventures finally had time to sit down and collect my clips for now!

Life updates:

  • Traveled for myself or Enactus and flew to different interviews (Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, London, Amsterdam, Raleigh) in 2019 so far!
  • Graduated college with a degree in computer science with a job lined up
  • Got myself and two big checked bags from BOS > RDU
  • Met a lot of cool people and am probably eating a little /too/ good
  • Working on the vlogging thing…

Thanks for watching and I wish you guys the best of luck today, tomorrow, and onward for whatever you are working on!! xx Sami

Find Mentors || S.S. 10

Sams Ships (13)In this final installment of my individual apprenticeship patterns, I think an important one to write about would be Find Mentors. To summarize the main point of this one, I would say that it encourages people to observe their role and their surroundings to see where they can find the most value from learning or use their resources. It encourages you to look at things from one level back instead of blindly jumping into something right away.

Personally, I have been in a role where I had to figure out a lot of things that could have just been taught to me. I quickly learned that I would be able to ask other junior developers how they managed to learn things on their own and it helped me a lot. If other junior developers were not available, then I would work my way up to people who had the most recent on-boarding experience and hope that they could recall the process I was currently going through. For the most part, that worked out well!

Thanks to this pattern, I thought it was useful to think about and remind ourselves that even though our mentors will know a lot more about us, they still do not know everything. They are still continuing to learn as much as we are in their own careers.

I thought I should update this blog to throw in a little hidden announcement if anyone actually reads these that I will be learning at a company with about 100 peers going through the same thing. This makes me feel a lot more confident knowing that I will have a designated support system around me and have mentors around.

Overall, I agreed with the pattern. This is because I can testify with my personal experiences how useful it was to be able to utilize my resources including being able to ask mentors questions or just find my own. A common question I had for my interviewers was, “Will I have a mentor or support system along the way throughout my career progression?” Personally, it is important for me to have a designated place to go for support because it just takes one more worry away about having to ask somebody a question.

It is now time to conclude my individual apprenticeship pattern series! I hope you have at least learned one thing from it because I have learned so many things.

WSU x AMPATH || Sprint 5 Retrospective

Sams Ships (14)Over the past two weeks, my team continued to discuss what we are working on as usual. We have come to the conclusion that we will add our Search Bar component once there are updates and more of a base to work off of. This was concluded after we realized that the process would be much more efficient. The parameters and details on the search bar would be harder to figure out without making up a base anyways.

Some advice for others who may be working on the same thing would be to try and collaborate or discuss potential orders between groups if one thing may depend on another. That would make it much simpler from the start if possible so there aren’t any clashes or time wasted on doing extra work that could have just been done by one group or team.

In the meantime, I did a little more research on the AMPATH system out of curiosity since we are going to be building onto their work. I found out that there are 500+ care sites in Kenya! It is interesting to think about the potential impact our work may make on how AMPATH carries out their process. Their initiative reminds me of what Enactus at Worcester State strives for when they work on projects to help people or organizations in the community “sustain their own success, connect them with universal health insurance, train next generation medical professionals, and research new breakthroughs and best practices.” Being able to help a healthcare organization is pretty meaningful, especially as a project through my capstone.

A way to tie our 348 course (Software Process Management) with our 448 (Capstone) course would be through now being able to use Travis CI and Heroku. It was interesting being able to experience using these in class and help our peers use it and now be able to use them in our capstone. I think the practice we got was nice because I found that my peers and I were more comfortable with following steps that were written out and explained to us instead of just “going for it.” I have also noticed that our 348 course helped us pay more attention to how we interact with others, which is very useful for the future when we will be working in teams of developers to create or update new technologies. One more thing which I found useful was seeing Travis CI load, and the race against time when it came to classmates pushing code at the same time; it made me push myself to be a little faster while at the same time not be sloppy about what I was putting into my code.

Overall, we discussed what we will do in these coming weeks as the semester comes to a close. The project we are planning on presenting will feature a search bar which we plan to implement by then. I am excited to see what we end up with in terms of helping AMPATH and their healthcare system!

 

 

Draw Your Own Map || S.S. 9

csseries281829For my second-to-last individual apprenticeship pattern, I have decided to go with something a little more relevant to my current situation–relating to starting my career post-graduation.

The Draw Your Own Map pattern caught my attention right away with “we might come across situations or colleagues or people in the society who will try to prove that programming will become an unsustainable activity as time passes by.” Throughout my job search process, I asked questions and requested advice from all different kinds of people across different fields (and especially within computer science) on how they knew what job they wanted to start with when given opportunities.

In the end, I must choose what I think is best for me in terms of what I’m looking for. I’ve finally came up with a list and that includes:

  • Having solid mentorship
  • Proper training (no room for imposter syndrome)
  • A company that tries to stay on top of new technology
  • Work-life balance that allows me to continue doing all the things I love to do outside of work and travel often

The Draw Your Own map pattern is very encouraging, reminding us that we have options elsewhere if we feel that our current company is hindering our learning and personal growth. I found that this pattern was interesting because I part of my decision-making process was “what if I am ____ amount of time into my first career and realize that I do not like what I am doing?” How would I move on out of that role to figure out what I may like better in terms of my day-to-day tasks?

The activity to list three jobs that I could do following my next was was really helpful to visualize future career possibilities. I know that we can always learn on the job and at new jobs but it is also important to build up your skills that can be transferred in the first place.

The pattern has helped me feel more confident in the decision I made to start out in software engineering. I will build up my skills starting here and then more onward from there!

Sustainable Motivations || S.S. 7

Sams Ships (9)From recent conversations with friends and professionals I’ve had genuine one-on-one discussions with, a common concern people have is whether they will continue to actually enjoy what they do. Today I’m going to discuss the Sustainable Motivations apprenticeship pattern. This pattern pretty much goes over scenarios people may run into throughout their careers in technology. There will be great days where people may be amazed that they are getting paid to create things and there will be rough days where people may be doubting if it is the right profession for them at all.

The points brought up remind me of a recent article from the New York Times titled Wealthy, Successful, and Miserable. What happens when the new-ness of what started as an exciting role to join in a company wears off and you are left off with unsettled feelings? It is up to individuals to keep going until they find what they love again or shift what they are doing a little to stimulate something new.

I like how the pattern encourages people to come up with a list of things that motivate them. It then tells them to reflect on what those things means or if there is a noticeable pattern from the things they have chosen. Having a list like this around to remind people of what they are working for is a reassuring way to keep them going. It reminds me of a post on LinkedIn I saw where someone kept a sticky note on their monitor screen that just had a number like “-$237.25” because it was to remind them of how much they had in their bank account when they started their job.

The pattern has caused me to think about the way I intend to work as someone who constantly likes to change things up or is not afraid of change. I do not disagree with anything in the patterns as it tells us to keep pushing and persevering by thinking about The Long Road, which is another apprenticeship pattern.

Overall, I think people interested in this pattern should read the NYT article I linked as well because it gives insight on the difference it makes when people do something that makes their work feel more meaningful.

WSU x AMPATH || Sprint 2 Retrospective

Sams Ships (8).pngFor my second sprint retrospective, there is something I would like to reflect on in terms of a change to my first sprint conclusion. It turns out my build environment was not completely set up properly so I had spent some time with assistance from my teammates on configuring that. I would like to note that I have a MacBook so that made things a little different to work our way around figuring out what to change or test out. A very helpful link was from a question someone asked on Stack Overflow. Through the process of not being able to install angular-cli on my mac, it led me to installing nvm, where there was another series of instructions to follow through Github.

It is very relieving whenever we get stuck on something and are able to find similar scenarios from people around the world who have run into the same roadblock and they share advice on how to work around it. Thanks to their input, I was able to resolve my terminal errors and/or warnings that resulted from trying to build something. It also helped me try and see if I could assist any of my other teammates who were running into errors as well even on Windows. I would definitely continue using the internet as a resource when I get stuck on mac-specific issues. The same thing happens when an installation that is only available in .exe files is required, I must find a mac-appropriate version.

However, if I were to proceed any differently; I would have double-or-triple-checked what is necessary to move forward. If someone else were to follow these steps; I would highly recommend checking out the links I provided above when I was unable to install angular-cli on my mac.

So far, we have been hit with some New England weather™ which shows how we were able to keep moving and working despite a roadblock that we could not control. It is very relieving to know we are now all on the same page and are working on moving forward together to contribute to the AMPATH system from now until the end of the semester. Who knew something could be more relieving than finally seeing the login screen after the ng command and going to the localhost url.

A big update is we got some more information on the AMPATH x WSU collab right around the end of this sprint so I am looking forward to exploring that with my team. It will allow us to analyze what has been given to us and decide where to move forward with the project.

Overall this past sprint included a lot more learning and collaborating with my team. I’m excited to begin watching the walk-through videos that Greg uploaded of the wire-frames. They look like they are broken down well and all of them are combined into a playlist so I would say we are going to be learning a lot more. Stay tuned for the Sprint 3 retrospective!