A Rambling of Thoughts: GHC

I am a strong woman in tech

I am a strong woman in tech

I am a strong woman in tech

I kept telling myself that as I waded my way through the monstrosity called the career fair at the Grace Hopper Conference just last week.

I skirted around the fabulous booths of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, because well unlike many others who were throwing their resumes at recruiters and engineers, I had already gotten rejected. But I couldn’t stand the awkward air when one of those recruiters made eye contact with me multiple times as I walked past, and I couldn’t help but go talk to her. As she took photos of my resume and asked me logistical questions of when I would graduate and where else I’m interviewing, I couldn’t help but think “She’s gonna find out that the person she spent 10 minutes with has already been put in the throw away pile.”

I went to other company booths mainly to ask questions about their engineering culture, what’s been their favorite part of the company, etc. All those questions where you would hear the same words used over and over again.

“We have such an open culture!”

“We’re incredibly collaborative”

“Work-life balance here is amazing”

But I still asked these questions in hopes of finding somewhere where I could feel more at home. My previous experience in tech had pushed me and I have come out with the joys of feeling accomplished for finding bugs and fixing them, but that feeling wouldn’t last beyond that. I couldn’t bring myself to make an elevator pitch, the way many others would simply whip out their resume and start listing off their technical passions and their accomplishments. I feel incredibly indebted to the people I have gotten support from, and I still struggle to really believe that I am a strong woman in tech.

I am a strong woman in tech… right?

I find that my interests in college have varied significantly. My academics in computer science are not reflected in my leadership in the Asian American community, and then both are not reflected in my escape from reality with playing violin. I want to do all of them, but I’ve felt constrained to prioritize and only pick one for a career. I had now just accepted that if I stay in tech, I would be siloed to just code and not have any other sort of influence or part in other spheres of my life, because I’m not good at multi-tasking! I’m not good at letting my life be day and night, work and life.

But really, all I want is to be enthusiastic, to be excited for the work I end up doing. That has made me very impressionable because I want to reflect the enthusiasm that others show me at each and every booth I’ve gone to. So while I am hearing these same words over and over again from each recruiter, I find myself more and more enthusiastic…but when I go back to try to unpack what it is I liked about them, I turn up empty-handed.

But even before I delve into thinking about where I want to work, am I even qualified or worthy to work in these places? I’m afraid of overestimating my abilities and not being able to follow through with my claims. Maybe that’s why I air on the side of talking very little about myself and what I do. We all know there’s that thing called imposter syndrome and we all know that theoretically everyone experiences it. I’m glad to say it’s not crippling me as it used to…but it is still a huge presence in my life.

While I do have all of these thoughts running through my head, Grace Hopper is an incredible space. While I have these doubts, GHC works to dismantle them and to remind us that we are affected by the system that works against us, a system that is not in our favor. Hearing testimonials of women who have accomplished so many and overcome many hardships does remind me that we are our own biggest and harshest critics, and a lot of times we put limits on ourselves.

I can always change. I can always work harder, seek more advice and input. And while it is important that I do my own part to better myself, it’s okay and it’s actually important to find a community such as the one in GHC to remind myself: I am more than my resume and my interviews.

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“Reading and writing are in themselves subversive acts. What they subvert is the notion that things have to be the way they are, that you are alone, that no one has ever felt the way you have…. Imagine that.”
― Mark Vonnegut