From October 4 through 6, six women from the Digital Worlds Institute took time away from the classroom to learn from a gathering of thousands of other women in the tech field.
BADAS students Ines Acosta, Jessica Socorro, Juliet Mia Mi, Elizabeth Gray, Akemi Miyagusuku and Rachel Brown traveled to Orlando with women from the UF Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering to participate in the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. The event was hosted by AnitaB.org in partnership with the Association for Computing Machinery, and the student registration and travel support was provided by the CISE and DW.
After experiencing the featured speakers, career fairs, special sessions and other networking opportunities, the women of DW agreed that participating in the conference was one of the best decisions of their semesters.
“I really liked how welcoming everyone was,” said Jessica Socorro, a Masters of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences student. “It was so easy to talk to the other women, and it didn’t feel like a competition to be the best. Everyone was supportive.”
Socorro ended the weekend by securing a research and development internship with Honeywell, one of the country’s leading technology companies. She said the career fair was one of the best she’s ever attended, and she’s excited that it presented an opportunity like this.
She credits the empowering atmosphere of female community for her success.
“To see that many women together showing leadership, showing confidence – it’s what made me feel confident enough to walk into a career fair alone without a care in the world,” Socorro said.
From Melinda Gates to companies such as Disney Pixar and ESPN, the opportunities were plentiful. The DW women all returned from the trip after plenty of networking and even more SWAG. BADAS student Ines Acosta said she collected 12 new t-shirts and numerous other items.
“My bag had almost nothing in it when I left on Wednesday,” Acosta said. “On the way back, I had to open the expander.”
Acosta said that her favorite part of the trip was meeting women from different fields and companies that she hopes to work for one day. Her digital specialty is character animation, and she was able to speak with employees from Disney Pixar and with one of the effects artists who animated the water in the feature film Moana.
An animator from Pixar gave her tips and advice about what to include in her portfolio and animation reel to wow Disney.
“I never thought I would learn all the things I did,” Acosta said. “They talked about apps, the business side of things – just to see all the women together collaborating and succeeding in a field dominated by men – you have to keep yourself from crying.”
The six women said they also enjoyed spending time with and getting to know their fellow DW peers. They split up for various sessions and speakers, but regrouped every evening to discuss the events of the day.
“To talk, and also to compare how much SWAG we got that day,” Acosta said. “The whole experience was just amazing. There were women of all ages from all over the world. Where else can you see something like that?”