Tanya graduated from Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women with Computer Science as a major and currently works as a Software development Engineer at Amazon.

She is a focused and goal-oriented person and loves solving hard problems and exploring the unexplored.

Here’s how she shared her experience of being selected for the Grace Hopper Conference India!

Describe the application process in brief.

The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists produced by AnitaB.org ( AnitaB.org was founded in 1997 by Anita Grace in honor of Grace Hopper, a trailblazer and fierce woman in technology) and presented in partnership with ACM. GHCI, the Indian counterpart for this conference started in 2010. At GHCI the best minds and leaders in the industry come together, to share their knowledge and shape the careers of thousands of women in technology. GHCI opens scholarship applications for college students and the details can be found on their website for the same. I will jot down the basic application process here: 

There are sections like Application Information and other basic questions about academic records that can be filled in 5mins. Then the application has three other sections including some essay questions, recommendation letter(s), and a video testimonial.

The essay questions and the video testimonial by a large margin, are the most important sections in the whole of the application. There are three essay questions with a variable word limit of 50–100 words so the answers have to be brief. “The best answers are written when we stay true to ourselves and come up with it on our own. I urge everyone who is filling out the scholarship form to not rely or depend on anyone else but themselves to bring out their story.”, said a GHCI scholar. Keep the essays as personal as possible and bring in incidences that helped you become who you are today, a woman in technology. Talk about the hardships you faced like unconscious bias and how you not just overcame them, but also learned something from them. Highlight your leadership skills and your accomplishments.

In the first question, a statement of purpose has to be written. Here, you should keep the answer as personal as possible by including incidents from your life that are related to the application because this will make your application unique. Talk about your strengths as a woman in technology and you can mention your weakness too but mention the steps you are taking to overcome them. Staying true to yourself matters here because this will help to portray your story well.

In the second question, you need to mention your technical skills and not just the skills but you can mention examples of your contributions to projects in the areas of your expertise and interest. If you have done some project for a social cause then that should be highlighted.

In the last essay question, you need to provide a list of activities undertaken that would indicate your interest in technology. You can include your experience in those activities and make it personal. In my application, I talked about one of the events wherein I faced unconscious bias being a woman in technology and how that event impacted me. Amplify your leadership skills and the roles that you have played as a team player. Brag about your achievements in activities that you have been a part of. You can include the hackathons you have participated in, technical competitions you have taken, societies that you were a part of along with your role, and key takeaways from there. Remember to support your point with sufficient proof rather than stating them as facts.

Next comes the video testimonial that has to be uploaded on a public platform and it has to be 2–3 minutes long. The video has to include a brief introduction. Talk about your journey as a woman in technology, emphasize your strengths especially leadership skills, your contributions in the technical and non-technical world, and the impact you have made on society, your technical skills, your internships, and your projects. Then mention the impact GHCI will have on you and why would you like to attend the conference. Mention that it’s a great networking opportunity and meeting women in the same shoes as you are right now would inspire you to do better and serve as a constant source of motivation. Highlight the impact GHCI will have on your life and career and how you plan to share your experience with others.

Then comes the CV/ Resume section. Make sure your resume is only single pager or two pages long and has the lists of all your important projects and positions of responsibility. Make it a point to highlight your passion and interest in the field of computer science.

And the final section is the recommendation letter(s), an optional section but always good to have. Your recommender should give personal recommendations and mentioning your position relative to your class leaves a good impression. They should mention the reason why they feel that you are the best fit for this scholarship.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a technology enthusiast, I started my journey of learning computer science right from my school and this continues to date as a Software engineer at Amazon. I have completed my Bachelors in Tech with Computer Science as a major from IGDTUW, Delhi in 2019 and during my college, I was a person who would say yes to any opportunity that comes her way, be it tech, be it non-tech because I had that hunger to learn things back and I was still in the process of finding my passion. Well, that just stayed with me and whatever I have achieved today is because of that spirit. I have interned for four great tech giants, have been a scholar for multiple forums, and have been an active reviewer for various scholarships as well. Today when I look back at my journey, I feel proud to see, a girl who was being looked upon and being judged as the only “computer science women student” in the whole class and who was being told to step down from learning what’s meant for boys, has made her way to the tech industry is doing great. Also just to make sure that no other girl faces this issue, I love to contribute to mentoring circles and I am more than happy to help anyone. 

Major accomplishments

I have got an opportunity to work with four major tech giants: Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Intuit, and Amazon and I would say my deliverables here have been my major accomplishments in terms of the impact my deliverables have created. But I would also like to say that being a GHCI scholar, Facebook F8 scholar, being a mentor for LeanIn circles, and getting selected as a scholarship reviewer for GHCI and GHC have been some great accomplishments for me.

Why do you think you were selected?

I think my application stood out from other applications in the way that it narrated my personal stories and my beliefs. Now that I have reviewed over 50+ scholarship applications, I can certainly say that the personal touch to the application and highlighting your enthusiasm speaks volumes and I think that worked for me. 

Any failures or rejections?

 I will put down a short story here. I got rejected for a full-time conversion offer as an intern at Microsoft because apparently, my manager said I am not suited for a tech role, rather I am suited for a Program Management role. After this rejection, my list of rejections continued at major tech giants because of the reason Microsoft rejected me but alas!, that couldn’t last long, and then came a point, where I was having five offers including one from Amazon that I chose at the end. 

If you’re a past scholar, can you tell us a bit about your experience?

GHCI scholarship has been an indelible experience for me. There are numerous opportunities for a student to explore the tech industry presented in terms of keynote sessions, mentoring sessions, career fairs, poster sessions, and whatnot. You will get to interact with so many women technologists that not just gives you an insight into what’s happening across but also pumps you up with more confidence. You can leverage all the time to network during the conference, even the stay for the scholars is at a common hotel and I made so many friends there whom I still interact with so the networking opportunities are countless. The best part about the conference is these sessions, especially the keynote and the career fair for me. These things helped me a lot, I found an internship opportunity through the career fair only. My interview was also scheduled at the conference so that for me, was the highlight. Other than then, whatever you wanna look out for, in a conference, you will get that at GHCI and certainly, I did. 

Any advice you would like to give future applicants?

I have written a blog highlighting some of the tips, you can check it out, https://medium.com/@tanyavedi/my-journey-as-a-ghci18-scholar-f372cc73fa99 

Listing down some of the tips here, though. Make your answers personal and try to put yourself in the shoes of the reviewer of your application and see if your application can be counted as a unique one and stands out. Ask your peers to review your application for grammatical errors and the impact it has. This will help you get a different view of your application and you can improve over it.

Pro tip: Emphasize your passion, ability to take ideas and make them come to life, and your influential power. Always look out for ways of giving back to society by utilizing the superpower that you have as a CS student and talk about this too.

We hope that Tanya’s experience and these detailed insights motivate you and help you in your journey.

Hope you enjoyed reading 🙂

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