Oghenemaro Anuyah, a M.S. in Computer Science student at Boise State, was selected to attend the 2017 CRA-W Grad Cohort workshop. Held in early April at the Marriott Marquis in Washington D.C., this program provided over 500 grad students from around the world with “opportunities to learn graduate school survival skills, receive mentoring, and develop networks with senior computing researchers.”
A first year graduate student, Oghenemaro learned of this opportunity through an advertisement by the CS department. The opportunity was more than she could have imagined! Below are some of the highlights with comments from Oghenemaro.
The program consisted of conference sessions on topics such as networking, finding a research topic, industry vs. academic careers, preparing thesis proposals, balancing grad school and life, PhD academic and non-academic career paths, entrepreneurial opportunities and skills, and building your professional persona. Split among three tracks, Oghenemaro wished she could split herself three ways so she could be present in all of them at the same time!
A talk on PhD careers really changed here perspective about the way she is approaching her research.
“Prior to attending the conference, I wasn’t sure about pursuing a PhD degree but now find myself motivated to do so. Not because of the title or value, but because of the passion I found in extensively understanding my course, acquiring technical skills and doing research.”
The session on building self-confidence was also impactful.
“When I started my Master’s degree, I didn’t feel I was good enough. I would have brilliant ideas and swallow them because I was scared they wouldn’t make sense when I voiced them. I am opportune to have a wonderful female advisor (Dr. Sole Pera) who encourages me to speak out and table down my ideas during research meetings, however, due to a lack of confidence, I still flop. This session boosted my self-confidence and I can’t wait to start working it.”
Oghenemaro was also able to participate in the Grad Cohort poster session (see poster below). Although initially hesitant to do it, Dr. Pera encouraged her to.
“I will say that [the poster session] was one of my best experiences during the conference. It was great talking about my research with other wonderful women in similar research areas as myself, and I got important feedback from my peers. Some of them surprisingly asked me questions like “You mean you are in your first year and have already started your research?”, in fact, it was amazing.”
Furthermore, many companies had representatives recruiting at the program and participants were encouraged to utilize these opportunities. A party, sponsored by Microsoft Research, had music and attendees were able to request songs from their home countries. As one attendee put it, it was “proof that it doesn’t matter what hemisphere you’re from, we can all dance to each other’s music.” This collegiality among participants allowed for great networking opportunities. Many peer contacts were made during the conference, touring the city together and through a CRA-W developed platform called “Connect” that allows participants to remain in touch.
Congratulations to Oghenemaro for applying for this and making the most of it! Applications for Grad Cohort 2018 will open in October. Follow CRA-Women on Twitter or join their email list / Facebook group to stay apprised of these opportunities.