Sunday, October 12, 2014

Just when you need it..

Have you come across situation when there is something going on in your mind, you are trying to find answers or at least bring yourself to peace by arguing in your own head rather than speaking and discussing with someone else? I do run into such situations occasionally. And today, as I was struggling with my thoughts, this is what I came across.

Image Credits: Robin Sharma (Author)

Reading this, I felt as if I found a solution (Just when I needed it!). Probably not the answer though. But also acknowledging the fact, that in life, it is not always possible to get answers to all our questions. So, in such situations, even getting a solution that pulls you out of the what-why spiral helps.

Any comments, thoughts? 

- Dippy



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Building your professional connections #ghc14

Session: Building your Professional Network
Speakers: Elizabeth Bautista (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
                 Raquell Holmes (Boston University)
Venue: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2014 GHC 2014

This session offered some ideas on how to present and introduce yourself in a professional setting, making connections and then staying connected. 

1. Drafting our elevator speech: Drafting an elevator speech is in a way challenging. We not only need to introduce ourselves to someone we are meeting for the first time but also make a positive impression. We talk about where we are from (institution), what's are our research/job interests, what brings us to the conference etc. The speakers presented a useful tip that can help us make the content of our speech better. Think about what you would like to know about the other person and then inculcate that into your introduction. 
      The presenters engaged the audience in 3-4 minute group activity where every person had to introduce herself to four other people. Speakers asked everyone to think about four words/adjectives that they would like to hear about themselves. I thought highlighting this point was important since many of us missed mentioning about them in our introduction. Traits such as self-motivated, reliable, team-player etc. 

2. How to approach someone you do not know: Now, this gets tricky at times. How do you walk up to someone you want to talk to and believe that he/she can offer some advice/perspective but do not know much about them. How to break the ice? One of the ideas speakers presented is - to ask them about their experience on some of the decision paths they feel they might have come across. Or if you are struggling with a specific issue, you can seek their opinion on what's their take on it. 

3. Staying connected: Now, making connections is one thing but staying connected afterwards is equally important. The speakers provided a new perspective on how we should look at the idea of maintaining connections. Instead of looking at the people in your network as someone who can provide let's say recommendation letters etc, we can also think about reaching out to invite them for a talk, collaboration or even seeking feedback. 

GHC 14 - "Building your professional network"

I hope you find this information helpful! Thanks,

- Dippy



Thursday, October 9, 2014

GHC 14 - Building your professional persona presentations #ghc14

Originally Posted On: Dippy Aggarwal's blog ~My Ramblings

This session titled "Building your Professional Persona", presented by 
Patty Lopez (Intel) and Jaime Teevan (Microsoft Research) presented do's and don'ts on how to build and project your professional image online. The first thought that strikes my mind when I think about maintaining a professional image, is to have a good online presence in terms of blog or website and social networking sites such as facebook or twitter etc. The session not only addressed that concern but also highlighted how conducting and disseminating the results of one's research are equally  or even more instrumental in in developing one's desired professional persona. 

While maintaining an updated professional profile on LinkedIn or personal website is critical in reflecting one's profile, but in order to do so, one first needs to of course build credentials that can be added to the profile. This is where the factor of doing good quality work comes in. Jamie presented several examples of things we need to keep in mind while conducting and publishing research.

1. Paper submission quality - If you are debating on whether to submit a paper to a conference/journal, think about this - consider your paper submission as a reflection of you and then try to answer the question again.

2. Illustrating the research idea with an example - This is really critical in conveying the contributions in a clear manner. 

3 Conducting literature review - Think of it as how you connect to it as opposed to how all that is wrong. Coming across a paper where the authors have done work similar to what you are planning to pursue is not always disappointing.  As long as you can convey and highlight the novel in your work or how you build upon the existing work to create something new, it is in fact an encouraging sign. Having work similar to what you are doing validates your idea and shows that your idea is of interest in the community.

4. Keywords selection - Jamie emphasized on not to over-generalize the keywords in the paper. The reason for that being, the reviewers are assigned papers based on keywords and/or abstract. So, having very broad terms in the keywords might lead to your paper reaching into the hands of someone who is not very deep into your research. This further means that it will be become harder to comprehend the paper by the reviewer, leading to rejections.

5. Apart from ideas on how to conduct and publish your research, the speakers emphasized that it is important to make sure that when someone tries to reach out to you for an open position in his/her organization, then it should be based primarily on your competency and credentials.

So, these were some of the points that were addressed in this talk. Feel free to share your thoughts.

- Dippy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

GHC14 - Finding your Dream Job Presentations #ghc14

Hi All,

So, here I am in Phoenix, Arizona attending Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing Conference 2014. For those of you who are not aware of this meet, GHC is the world's largest gathering of women in the computing field. 

Last year in 2013, the conference hosted 4750 attendees. But this year, the head count has gone up to 8000 women! Isn't that huge? All of sudden, I do not feel being a minority as the national statistics of women in computing speaks about. According to a statistics released by a national bureau, the percentage of women in computing nationwide in US is only 15%. And that is where conferences such as Grace Hopper comes in.

I volunteered for covering three sessions today and this is a post on the first one I attended - Finding your Dream Job Presentations. I really came out much more aware of how things work. Found it very informative.

Presenters: Jaeyeon Jung (Microsoft Research)
                    Lana Yarosh (University of Minnesota)

This session was catered to the graduate students who are about to finish their graduate studies and are on their way for looking for job opportunities, either in academia or industry. The session provided some practical advice on how to decide which track to opt for - academia or industry, how to navigate the interview landscape in each of the two sectors. Do they share some commonalities? And overall things to keep in mind during the application process. 

Very briefly, introducing the speakers - Jaeyeon Jung did her PhD from MIT 
 Lana Yarosh (left) and Jaeyeon Jung
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology), worked at Intel Labs before switching to her current position with Microsoft Research Labs in Seattle. Lana Yarosh recently started her academic career as a faculty position at the University of Minnesota in this Fall itself. But she also possess industry experience working at AT&T for about two years before taking up faculty position. 

Here's the highlights of the talk:

1. How to decide which sector who should go to? - Having a doctorate degree opens doors for being qualified to apply to both academia and industry. So, how to decide which one would be best of the two. The answer lies in understanding the fact that different jobs bring different values to the table.So, it becomes a question of individual's priorities. If it's salary primarily, then possibly industry is a better choice than academia.If it's teaching or community outreach, writing, mentoring etc., then you seem to be a better fit for a faculty position.

2. Identifying opportunities - Once you have figured out which way you want to go, the next step possibly is to determine what opportunities are available out there for applying.There are a number of things you can do in this context:

  •  Get on people's radar - network with people in the field. Let them know that you will be on the job market in one year. If you are ready to apply, reaching out to them and asking if there are any opportunities  that they are aware of and help you with. LinkedIn is another great resource to get in contact with people. This networking model is highly recommendable if you are interested in industry research labs because they do not support specialized portals/associations such as SIGCSE, ACM etc. to list the open positions as they exist for listing open academic positions.
  • Serving as a student representative on the search committee is a great way to get an idea of what the applications look like, what was there on a particular applicant's profile that made him/her get the offer. 
3. Manage and documenting the application process - When you are applying to several positions, it is hard to keep track of the status, any pending materials (such as, recommendation letter from someone) or the response received (if any). So, in order to stay on the top of all this, maintaining a simple Excel sheet really comes handy.


4. Rock in interviews - In order to avoid the awkward silence when a question is posed to you and you just do not have an answer, it is good to be as much prepared as possible. Now it is understandable that we can not anticipate every potential question that you may across during your interview, but at least doing your best in preparing for some commonly asked questions is helpful. For the same question, try to get answers from  different people. That will gain multiple perspectives on the question in hand. 

5. Negotiating - Both the speakers laid great emphasis on the importance of negotiating once an offer is made and they believe that start up packages are easy to negotiate than getting salary promotions later. There is a lot of wriggle room (bonus, stocks etc. ) in the industry positions. One important point I found interesting was understanding that it is not always the direct financial negotiation you should try for, but instead also look at factors like - having a reduced teaching load, getting funds for equipping the lab etc. 


These were some of the points that were covered in the session. The speakers were really knowledgeable and more than willing to answer questions. Glad that I could attend it!

This post was syndicated from My Ramblings.....!

Dippy