A recipient of the prestigious Facebook Grace Hopper Scholarship in 2018, Laura Goon is a senior at Rice University, studying Computer Science with a minor in Data Science. Her passion for Computer Science is driven by her fascination with the impact that technology can have on the community. A highly driven individual, she is a rising software engineer, having previously interned at tech giants like Facebook and Apple.

The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), named after the computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper, is one of the biggest conferences in the world for women in technology. It offers women who share a passion for technology, an opportunity to network with pioneers from around the world as well as a chance to receive job offers from various companies. The GHC scholarship is awarded to a select few women around the globe by 4 companies – Microsoft, Facebook, Google AnitaB.org, and Goldman Sachs. To learn more about this scholarship, click here.  

Read on to learn more about Goon’s journey!       

Key Takeaways:

  1. Laura Goon’s background
  2. The application process
  3. What made Laura Goon’s application stand out?
  4. Failures and rejections she faced along the way
  5. Scholarship experience
  6. Advice for future applicants

INTERVIEW

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I’m currently a senior at Rice University studying CS and Data Science. Coming into college, I was pretty confident that I wanted to pursue CS, due to some previous exposure in high school. The friends I surrounded myself with helped motivate me to continue applying to almost anything that seemed cool, no matter how impossible my acceptance seemed to be. For example, when I found any interesting tech conferences in my city, I emailed the conference organizers explaining my interest as a student and was usually able to get some free conference tickets through that. By attending these events, I met a lot of inspiring and smart people in the tech industry that helped solidify my interest in pursuing this path. 

During the summer before Grace Hopper Conference that year, I continued my persistence to apply to all scholarships that I came across. Though it became exhausting at times, I found myself some time for self-reflection as I wrote those scholarship application essays, which was quite enlightening for me. When I finally got the email explaining my acceptance into the FB GHC Scholarship, I really thought it was a scam email, and I checked the email sender on multiple platforms (LinkedIn, Google, etc.) to make sure it was legitimate.

2. Could you give an overview of the application process?

The application consisted of 2 short essays and a transcript attachment.

3. Why do you think you were selected? 

Before and while writing my essay, I took a lot of time examining the products Facebook offers and tried to link that back into my personal life. I explained how I saw certain products affecting or improving the community around me and the ideas I had that could improve the way Facebook interacts with its users. I showed genuine interest in the company through the research I had done. Additionally, I wrote a lot about my challenges (and triumphs?) as a female in CS during my high school and college careers. I mentioned how they affected the way I see things now and my plans for the future. (And probably a little bit of luck!)

4. Have you faced any failures or rejections? 

I did face rejections from several other GHC scholarships (e.g. Microsoft, Google, AnitaB)

5. Could you elaborate on your experience with the scholarship?

I met a lot of great people during my Grace Hopper that year (there were 50 FB GHC scholars that year). The day before Grace Hopper, we met with the Facebook GHC team to learn about GHC, practice technical interviews, and just bond together over fun things. 

During Grace Hopper, I got a scheduled interview with FB in the interview booths. It was really exciting going to Grace Hopper for the first time, and also having a group of girls that I’d bump into as I wandered around the conference. Outside of Facebook, I was able to learn a lot from the other scholars I met through this scholarship, which was very valuable to me as an underclassman, just starting my CS career at college.

6. Any advice you would like to give future applicants? 

Take some time to understand why you want to go to Grace Hopper and how that would help/improve you. Also, think about the part of the event you are most looking forward to and find some time to look into the company/organization that is providing the scholarship you are there for. What other community initiatives are they also contributing to? What products do they make? 

On interviewing Laura Goon and learning more about her journey, the word that comes to mind is ‘proactive’. By taking the initiative to reach out to various people, be it for attending conferences or applying for scholarships, she made sure that she made the most of every opportunity that she came across. Her journey teaches us that the first step to achieving our goals is being proactive. We hope this article helps you gain an insight into the GHC scholarship and its application process. 

And don’t forget…Be proactive rather than reactive!


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