Grace Hopper Celebration is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists with 20,000 attendees from 75 different countries. Worldwide only 800 student scholarships are given out to students from more than 50 countries. One of those scholarships was awarded by Cisco to Sydney Park, a senior software engineering student at MSOE.

Dr. Walter Schilling, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, recognized Park’s potential and recommended she apply for a scholarship to attend the conference.

“Dr. Schilling emphasized what a valuable experience it would be, and boy was he right,” said Park.

The three-day conference was jam packed with speeches, courses and workshops. Park’s favorites included Aicha Evans’ keynote speech on her journey to chief strategy officer at Intel, a professional development leadership workshop that taught groups of students how to identify and overcome behaviors that hold them back, a crash course in AWS DeepRacer, and a career fair where companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Boeing and more came to recruit new hires.

Park left the conference with two full-time job offers and several more interviews arranged. She connected with other women at the conference, no matter what point they were in in their careers.

“We shared strategies that we personally use to get past roadblocks. I gained a lot of tools that will help me be my best self at work, in school, and in my personal life.”

Park had two main takeaways from Grace Hopper: empowerment comes from within and don’t settle for something you’re not happy with.

“If you have a goal or dream, you have to work for it and earn it because no one else is going to do it for you. On a similar note, when you have something to say and you keep quiet, it is a missed opportunity to better yourself and make a contribution.”

Park works as a software developer intern at MSI Data, the creator of Service Pro, a top field workforce automation software that helps organizations improve the productivity of their field workforce.

“I get to do full-stack web development with a Typescript front-end and C# backend. I get a lot of freedom to pick the tasks I am interested in, which means I am usually working on the backend. I work in a huge codebase which means I am learning something new about it every day – which is exactly why I went into software engineering in the first place!”