Grace Hopper Celebrations 2023: Insights and Tips for Future Attendees

Tips to Maximize Your Grace Hopper Experience

I had the privilege of being sponsored by Walmart Global Tech to participate in the Grace Hopper Celebration 2023 in Orlando. Spanning four days, the event provided extensive opportunities for learning, networking, and fostering connections with fellow professionals and industry experts. The experience was truly unforgettable. The knowledge I acquired there has made an enduring impact on my professional development. In the spirit of paying it forward, I would like to share some valuable insights and tips, which I hope will prove beneficial to future attendees.

Registration and Pre-Grace Hopper Celebration Events

You can register for the event at Upon registration, you will be granted a one-year Premium Membership, offering access to a range of premium member-only events. I highly recommend taking advantage of this membership by participating in the pre-Grace Hopper Celebration events. As a first-time attendee, I found the pre-Grace Hopper Celebration networking event highly informative. The breakout sessions facilitated interactions with fellow attendees, providing a platform to address queries ranging from resume building and conference logistics to on-site dining options. Additionally, the virtual Open-Source Day, a key event leading up to the Grace Hopper Celebration, featured interactive projects and workshops conducted by industry professionals from diverse technical and non-technical domains.

Planning Your Session Schedule

Navigating the extensive array of sessions and events at the Grace Hopper Celebration can be an overwhelming task, considering the numerous offerings, ranging from leadership skill development to ethical AI and hands-on workshops. To optimize your conference experience, plan ahead and familiarize yourself with the agenda. The official app provides a comprehensive overview, allowing you to sign up for sessions that match your interests. A few tips:

  • Some virtual sessions are recorded for later viewing, so I’d advise in-person attendees to prioritize on-site sessions over virtual ones.
  • Make informed choices about which sessions to prioritize by reviewing the session details, which offer insights into the session’s content and format, speaker information, and the target audience’s career stage. Session details also share if it’s essential to bring a laptop for hands-on projects (required for some workshops). Reading the full details is also helpful since sometimes titles alone can be misleading.
  • The venue in Orlando is vast, with meeting rooms sometimes 5 or 10 minutes apart. Review your session locations in advance so you can make adjustments to your itinerary to account for walking time.

Networking and Braindates

At the heart of the Grace Hopper Conference is an extraordinary opportunity to engage with a vibrant community of brilliant women and non-binary professionals in the tech industry. While the seminars and workshops undoubtedly offer a wealth of knowledge, it is the interpersonal connections with fellow attendees that elevate the experience.

Whether engrossed in thought-provoking braindates or engaged in spontaneous conversations with tablemates, you’ll find each interaction presents unique learning opportunities. Maximize your conference experience by striking the right balance between active participation in sessions and dedicated networking time. Attendees can initiate connections through LinkedIn and the Grace Hopper Conference app to meet in person for a ‘meet & greet’ session. I managed to schedule 15 min sessions with fellow attendees and we chatted in the lounge areas.

The braindates, an intellectual rendezvous of sorts, were the highlight of networking. There were formats like one-on-one discussions, group sessions, and ‘ask me anything’ meetings. I participated in and hosted braindates, engaging with professionals from various companies. Our conversations delved into topics such as work culture, AI adoption, and product management, with truly enriching dialogue and an exchange of mutual knowledge. Noteworthy encounters included collaborative brainstorming sessions with students from diverse universities and exploring the application of Gen AI in crafting user stories. I hosted an ‘ask me anything’ session on product management at Walmart, which was a great opportunity to share insights into our exceptional work culture and growth as a tech powerhouse.

Be Prepared and Intentional

Like any endeavor, having clear goals is key to a productive Grace Hopper Celebration experience. Some goals might include:

  • Learning about a wide spectrum of trending technical topics, such as ethical AI, sustainability, and security.
  • Showcasing and promoting your company’s open source software.
  • Upscaling yourself to the next level of professional growth.
  • Searching for opportunities at the job expo, where you can provide resumes and schedule interviews with various companies.

While spontaneity adds fun to networking, there’s value in intentional goal-setting to focus on the most relevant sessions and preparing well for networking events.

I had two goals for the event. Firstly, I aimed to connect and learn from fellow professionals. Secondly, I sought to attract talent for Walmart, by highlighting Walmart’s distinctive culture and technical prowess. I entered conversations well-prepared to discuss Walmart’s technology capabilities and working style. This level of preparation helped me facilitate meaningful interactions with potential candidates. Similarly, being prepared allowed me to pose specific questions to women leaders I met, who then shared their experiences and insights. I have stayed in touch with many of the attendees after the event to continue the engagement. Your goals may vary, but it is essential to have an elevator pitch ready.

There are a few keys to crafting your elevator pitch:

  • Make sure to represent your background and area of expertise as a professional.
  • Have a clear idea of what skillsets you bring to the table and what fields interest you.
  • Do your homework about the company before approaching its employees.

This last part is especially important if you’re looking for a new position. For example, the best candidates approaching Walmart don’t just think about our stores, but appreciate the impressive infrastructure that powers our business and how we have promoted quick adoption of next generation technology to transform retail. A bit of solid research helps you stand out as having genuine interest in joining a company.

Take Care of Yourself

Pace yourself wisely during Grace Hopper Celebrations! Take a pause, refuel, and keep the enthusiasm alive. It can be a whirlwind of events, so use your clearly defined goals to guide your agenda. Wear cozy shoes and layered attire; the conference center can be chilly. There were pastries, fruits, and beverages available outside the meeting rooms for the participants. There were also food vendors, but be prepared for the occasional long lines. If you are traveling solo, have an open mind about initiating conversations and building connections with fellow attendees. In my case, traveling with Walmart colleagues was a game changer, and we enjoyed sharing notes throughout the day on the sessions.

Apply To Speak

Elevate your professional standing by applying as a speaker. This opportunity is a valuable chance to showcase the best practices, tools, and applications from your organization or to share your insightful ideas with a diverse audience. You can opt-in for a virtual or in-person speaking engagement, to discuss a range of topics based on your expertise: technology, career growth, navigating the job market, or presenting research findings. The call for participation (CFP) as a speaker closes in April, but you can sign up to be notified when it opens again. The impact of sharing your knowledge is immeasurable. You never know how your expertise will positively resonate with your audience.

In essence, the Grace Hopper Conference offers more than a traditional conference experience. It is a dynamic platform for meaningful connections, intellectual discourse, and the celebration of diverse women and nonbinary professionals within the tech landscape. I hope these tips help you have a more memorable and enriching experience.

Grace Hopper Celebrations 2023: Insights and Tips for Future Attendees was originally published in Walmart Global Tech Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Article Link: Grace Hopper Celebrations 2023: Insights and Tips for Future Attendees | by Magdaline Frank | Walmart Global Tech Blog | Jan, 2024 | Medium