In the next month or so I have a couple of talks going on to groups of CompSci students - notably "a rather useful seminar", part of a series of optional seminars the legendary Rob Miles started at Hull. Should be good fun, I'm talking industrial placements, but part of that is what I did for the last year when I wasn't at work, as I had a lot of fun with technology during my free time, too. So, I drafted a list of stuff I've done that's shaped who I am - chiefly by forcing me to actually talk to people - and I thought I'd list them here so that I can link to them in any talks I do about them.
0.5 Speaking at technical meet ups (Raspberry Jam)
what it is network of events ran around the raspberry pi community intending on bringing people together in a friendly atmosphere. I say technical meet ups because not every student sees the point of RPi, so you're free to take your fancy at the many other techy events available in different cities
what it gave me my first nudge into speaking publicly, confidence that I had something interesting to say and a national network of friends who are basically my nerd family. Also gave me stuff to write about.
1. IET Present Around The World
what it is: a competition where 18-25 year olds can present a 10 minute talk on any technical topic and answer questions for 5 minutes. Prizes vary depending on how many rounds you get through.
what it gave me an excuse to hone my presentation skills, honest critique in a friendly enviroment and a real understanding of why nerves hit me and how to conquer them. Genuinely, needed so much chocolate after doing public speaking and the nerves got so bad sometimes that I'd get upset and it's often hard for people to understand, but now I can just about handle it because I know how to prepare properly. Additional benefit of meeting some great people, networking and winning a little bit of pocket money.
2. GHC 2014
what it is a conference in the USA which celebrates women of all walks of life who are in computing.
what it gave me confidence that I kick ass (hey, not many people win a scholarship to fly to the USA...), abundance of networking opportunities with some huge companies I probably wouldn't have spoken to otherwise, the chance to interview with Facebook in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, and some other interviews and confidence boosting opportunities. Plus, a free trip to my fourth state!
3. Volunteering with STEMNET
what it is a national network of professionals and academics in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who help schools teach about the opportunities and fun stuff about these fields.
what it gave me yet more confidence, and the feeling that I'd set out on what I've always wanted to do, which is ensure computing is taught as the awesomely brilliant subject it is, and make the curriculum more accessible and inclusive. Also got me more notice from companies, so once again, networking!
4. Lovelace colloquium 2013 and 2014
what it is event ran for undergraduate women in cs from across the UK to meet up and listen to some awesome talks.
what it gave me a new group of friends, some insight into academia vs industry as a career path. Also found a few companies to apply for jobs at, so once again, networking. (Maybe that should just be assumed?)