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.....!


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