Ruth Nuttall knows the challenges women face in the technology world. A few years ago, while still in high school, the boys on her robotics team sometimes ignored her strategic ideas and technical choices during competitions and tried to take control. “I would step up and tell them, ’You're backing off and letting me finish this,’” she says. It wasn’t so much the tone of her voice, she says, as the fact that she stood up for herself at an important moment. “And they listened to that,” she said.
In 2018, that same determination led Nuttall to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest networking event for women in technology, and landed her a coveted graduate-level, data science internship at ServiceNow—while she was still an undergrad.
“I definitely learned a lot, especially being in a grad-level job,” says Nuttall, who recently finished her summer internship and is now back at California Polytechnic State University as a senior. At ServiceNow, Nuttall helped develop predictive analytic models that help customers find the products they need. “I appreciated that I had an opportunity to do something like that,” she says.
Nuttall also learned a lot about how to prepare for a networking event like Grace Hopper, which is being held this year in Orlando, Florida and is expected to draw some 20,000 attendees.
Her fellow attendee that year, Teresa Li, also scored a role at ServiceNow, as a full-time software engineer on the security team. At the time of the event, Yi was a computer engineering grad student at NYU who knew little about ServiceNow. A friend who did suggested Li stop by its career booth. Li was impressed by what she heard of the company’s founder, Fred Luddy, and his goal to make work better for people. “The platform sounded fascinating,” she says. She adds, that’s what’s great about the event, “getting a chance to know a company and its culture.”
Li and Nuttall recently compared notes and came up with a handy guide.
Here are their four tips for how to network—and have—fun at Grace Hopper:
• Prepare: There are hundreds of tech companies recruiting at the Grace Hopper career fair. Whether you’re a student seeking an internship or a job holder looking to switch jobs, many of these companies will pre-schedule interviews with you. But you have to upload your resume to the Grace Hopper Resume Database for that to happen. “I had a few companies contact me before the event for certain time slots, so it’s good to do this before getting there,” says Yi. Also, says Nuttal, “print hundreds of resumes ‘cause you’re gonna hand them out to everyone.”
• Practice: Nearly every job seeker who attends the conference reads Cracking the Coding Interview. “Everyone just had to know this book for interviewing,” says Nuttall. Among the tips that she and Yi found most helpful: Perform mock interviews with a friend. Sample questions: What project are you working on? What are the most challenging components? What role did you play? What technical choices did you make? At the time of her interview with ServiceNow, Yi had been working on customer relationship software to create faster page-response times. “I had to learn to cooperate with other departments and plan the whole projects scope,” she says, which she says impressed her ServiceNow interviewer.
• Pitch: You’ll want to introduce yourself to as many companies as possible and you’ll want to be able to deliver a concise and engaging pitch about who you are and what role you’re looking for. Companies like ServiceNow are looking to spend quality time with you. “I really practiced my elevator pitch so I could quickly get my message across,” says Nuttall. It’s also helpful to print download an event map ahead of time. “It helps if there are certain companies you want to visit," says Nuttall. “I would definitely plan ahead 'cause I definitely didn't do that.” Also, says Yi, research companies you want to meet with ahead of time, “so you can have a better chat with them and better discuss jobs.”
• Party: Part of networking at Grace Hopper is just socializing with other women in tech. “I tell people who are going to try to have fun there and meet as many people as possible,” says Nuttall. She also advises people to pack light: “There’s a lot of great free ‘swag,’ like t-shirts, leggings, hats, earphones, bags,” she says. “So definitely plan for that. Try and bring some extra luggage with you if at all possible.”
Speaking of swag, make sure to stop by ServiceNow’s booth for a custom button (Booth 922)!
Learn more about joining our team at the ServiceNow careers page.