Thursday, October 18, 2012

ONCWIC: Attending My First Conference

Last weekend (October 12-13, 2012), I attended this year’s Ontario Celebration of Women In Computing conference which was held in London, Ontario. This was my first time attending a conference, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Being kind of shy and timid also kind of made me nervous. Will people talk to me? Am I going to feel out of place? I was anxious, but at the same time excited to see what the conference had to offer. Walking in and finding a place to sit had to be the most challenging part, since I’m not really the type of person to just join in a conversation with people I don’t know. Fortunately for me, one of the first people I met actually recognized me (and my name tag) since she had seen my earlier tweets about the conference! (Twitter is bringing the world together!)


After settling in and listening to the first woman speak, I knew everything was going to go great. All the keynote speakers were truly inspiring. From how to communicate efficiently with others and being your own PR agent, to how to properly answer the question “what is inheritance?” in a job interview (which I honestly don’t think I’d know the answer to!), I gained some valuable knowledge. I think the one thing that really affected me was Kelley Irwin (who is the Vice President of Technology Solutions at TD Bank Group)’s keynote on Technology in Financial Services. In her talk, she spoke of when she was just beginning as a programmer, when all she wanted to do was write her code by herself and not have to deal with anyone else. She was shy and timid and just wanted to be left alone. And now, she’s a manager of over 300 people all over the world, speaking to large groups of people about her job. For me, hearing her story is so inspiring because she started out right where I am now, shy and timid and never thinking I could ever give talks or manage people. But look at her now! Hearing that gives me hope that maybe one day I could be just like her, a successful woman leading others in a job that she loves doing.

Attending this year’s ONCWIC was truly worth the 8 hour drive it took to get to London. Meeting new people, learning new things, sharing a passion for technology with other women, (and let’s not forget all the great food and prizes!), made this past weekend truly one to remember. I encourage all women in computing to attend next year’s conference which will be held in Waterloo! Let’s hope in years to come ONCWIC can join us here in Ottawa!
 
 

7 comments:

Kelly Lyons said...

This is an excellent blog post, Kristen! I know you will be giving talks and managing people one day if that is what you want to do! Congratulations for driving so far to attend! Congratulations for meeting new people and congratulations for blogging and tweeting about it all! Awesome! Kelly Lyons(the person who recognized you from your tweets)

Gail Carmichael said...

Agreed, great post! In addition to ONCWIC (which is awesome - I went in Kingston), keep your eye open for info about next year's Grace Hopper in Minnesota. I will make sure info about the call for participation and scholarship applications get posted in the CU-WISE newsletter. :)

Wendy Powley said...

Great post, Kristen! So happy that you found the conference inspiring. Too funny that you ran into Kelly Lyons right away -- we were reading your posts on the way to the conference :-). Hope to see you next year in Waterloo! Thanks for making the trip!

pandwra said...

Kristen great post, you really summed up the experience for all of us! Meet you next year at Waterloo to win the trivia contest again! ;)

Kristyn Girard said...

Thanks so much everyone for reading my post! I truly had a blast and can't wait to see everyone again! Gail - I'll definitely be looking out for next year's GHC too!

workingtechmom said...

Kristen - so glad you found the conference inspiring and yes, you have many opportunities for success in your future. Taking the step to attend, putting yourself out of your comfort zone, and making the most of the time with others like you all point to your confidence and leadership. Congrats on your blog...I love blogging!

workingtechmom said...

Hi Kristen. I am just starting to think of attending the 2013 conference and hope you will too. Your perspective and generous thoughts of how others helped make you feel welcome are terrific for anyone thinking of attending for their first time.

If you attend for your second time, try to reach out to someone else who may be a first timer. So many technology women feel the same way - they just want a pal to ask them to "join the table'.

- Kelley Irwin