As you probably heard, Yelp attended Grace Hopper this year. Nine software engineers from different teams attended and, for many of us, it was our first time.

It was a unique experience to see so many talented women in one place. In addition to the talks and panel discussions, we also had the opportunity and pleasure to represent Yelp at the career fair. It was amazing to see a consistent flow of students and industry talent, all happy customers, stop by our booth to speak with us and tell us their stories of using Yelp.

We had such a great time that we wanted to share some highlights with you. This is the first of two posts where each of us have added an excerpt from our experience in our own words.

 Our first day at the career fair. From left: Jen F., Wei W., Susanne L., Tasneem M., Carmen J., Emily F., Virginia T.

Our first day at the career fair. From left: Jen F., Wei W., Susanne L., Tasneem M., Carmen J., Emily F., Virginia T.

Tasneem M.

Engineering Manager, Ads

I joined Yelp about a month ago and was super excited to be part of this journey with fun and interesting women from the company. I have worked in the software industry since the early 2000s and have grown as an engineer, a manager and a leader partly because I have had inspiring role models throughout my career. My mentors have challenged me to take on opportunities that I felt I wasn’t quite ready for.

My experience at Grace Hopper was a reminder of how far I have come and yet how far I still can go. It has re-inspired me to continue mentoring women and help them take charge of their careers in a male dominated industry. I am also motivated to help tackle the diversity issues within my local community.

The highlights for me were being at the career fair, attending the keynotes and technology lightning talks. Having spent a lot of time at the career fair, I was impressed by the talent and deep interest in data mining and machine learning. I look forward to seeing some of you join our growing community of awesome engineers at Yelp. I also loved Pat Kirkland’s talk on “Executive Presence.” I appreciated her role-playing and practical guidance on the different personas (prey, predator and partner) and have been able to successfully experiment with some of her tips at work. The lightning talks were a great way to hear several unique stories and perspectives within an hour. I hope that we can be on stage next year sharing some of our experiences.

Susanne L.

Database Engineer, Operations

I am a database engineer at Yelp, working on a team where we all make sure that our persistent stores are reliable, scalable, fast and give our Yelp consumers a pleasant experience with our product. I thought it was awesome to see so many great women in computing coming to Grace Hopper. Some of them were looking for an internship or a full time position and they stopped by our booth genuinely interested in Yelp. It was exciting to hear how our product makes consumers happy.

A lot of these young women had remarkable experiences but didn’t really know what to highlight and how to sell themselves. My suggestion to some of them was to:

  • Consider having an “elevator pitch” prepared. Sell yourself in 60 seconds: try a pitch that includes your name, year, major, minor (if you have one), and why you want this job.
  • Prepare to talk about a distinguishing skill/project. For example, “I did a hackathon, where I developed an android app..” Be prepared to answer any questions about the project and what you learned from it.
  • Know what you are looking for. “What kind of internship at Yelp would you be interested in?” Backend/Frontend/Mobile/Web? Which programming language do you like? Why? Avoid “I don’t know, anything is fine” unless you are a freshman!

    Jen F.

    Systems Administrator, Corporate Infrastructure

I have been at Yelp since August 2012. For me,  the talk I will remember most is “Beyond the Buzzwords: Test-Driven Development” where I got a quick overview of how one can practice test driven development (TDD). While TDD isn’t the most exciting technical topic, the speaker, Sabrina B. Williams from Google, did an awesome job making it relatable. She was able to share a live demo of a project from concept to the tests to fully-implemented program.

The keynotes were full of rock stars of the technology world that were also surprisingly engaging (and occasionally controversial!).  Who hasn’t gone to a technology conference keynote and expected a glorified sales pitch that was easily forgettable?  None of that was here at Grace Hopper.

I also appreciated how diverse the talks were - from recommendations on how to get your first job to dealing with office politics to in-depth technical talks. However, one thing I’d love to see more at Grace Hopper next year is talks about advancing your career in non-managerial roles. All in all, this is a great conference and I only wish I had been able to participate when I was just getting into the industry!

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