I just attended the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing in Orlando, Florida. I volunteered to help at the Outreachy booth and Outreachy sponsored my conference registration and travel cost. Here’s a list of questions you may have if you’re reading this blog post.
Why did I do it?
Many reasons. Most important of them being –
1. Outreachy has been the second most important experience in my life as a programmer(*). It’s a fantastic program. It helps the open source communities become more diverse and it opens up avenues of opportunities for the interns. I wanted to volunteer and engage with the Outreachy community.
2. The last conference related to diversity I attended was womENcourage in 2015 in Uppsala, Sweden and it was very inspiring to be able to meet other women in the field computing. Tapia conference has a focus on people of colour and people with disabilities and it was an amazing experience to be able to attend the conference.
3. My conference registration and travel costs are sponsored by Outreachy and I like talking about my Outreachy experience and encouraging others to apply for the internship. Therefore it was a complete win-win situation for me.
What are the good stuff about Tapia?
1. Diversity! It was heartening to see so many people of colour in computing.
2. The keynotes ranged from being relevant, thought-provoking to exciting research in the area of assistive technology. The keynotes by Shiri Azenkot and Moshe Vardi are definitely worth mentioning.
3. Amazing career fair with a very good mix of presence from both academia and the industry.
4. Networking opportunity with other women in the field.
What are the bad stuff about Tapia?
1. No photography policy. Some people don’t like to be photographed and a conference which celebrates diversity should be aware of it.
2. No meal option for vegans and vegetarians.
What did I get out if it?
1. I liked helping at the Outreachy booth. I got to talk to people that came to our booth, shared my experience of being an Outreachy intern and hopefully could inspire them to apply for it.
2. I liked interacting with the other Outreachy members present at the booth and getting to know them personally.
3. I learned new stuff from some of the sessions at the conference.
4. I came back recharged and inspired and hopefully that will see me through for the next few months.
Do I recommend it?
Yes! Specially if you are a woman or a person of colour or both. It will help you grow both personally and professionally.
Did I go to Disney world?
Yes! Visited Epcot. Should have planned earlier, should have enable fast pass first thing once reached Epcot, and should have stayed longer. But it was a fun day at the Disney World.
(*) The most important experience in my life as a programmer is my 12 weeks spent at the Recurse Center. Go apply if you want to get dramatically better at programming.