Perspectives: Out For Undergraduate Technology Conference

In this series, our members share posts about attending the Out for Undergraduate Conferences:

As a graduating senior, it can be difficult to settle on just one field to enter when you graduate. Even as a STEM major, the opportunities seem vast: you could be a software engineer, a data scientist, or a product manager. And that’s just in tech. Surprisingly, most of these roles require similar people. When I expressed my interest in databases to one recruiter, I was amused to learn I could be a data engineer. I had not known that role existed.

Enter the Out for Undergraduate Business Conference: It’s a conference for LGBT persons with a focus on the high tech careers. Engineers from Google, Microsoft, Airbnb, and many others gather to teach undergraduate students about opportunities at their companies and share their passions for game-changing technologies. Think comic-con meets high tech careers.

I was surprised that it wasn’t just the companies that were great. All of my peers were fabulous, interesting people who made terrific comments during the training modules. Groups of students took night trips to the Castro district and other riotous hangouts between the conference’s regular programs. As a tech wonk, I was satisfied to meet tons of other college students who similarly care about tech things. You get a roommate for the duration of the conference and I enjoyed getting to know mine.

The technical speakers were informative. I finally feel like I grasped how programming for mobile differs from coding on the web. For example, mobile apps need to worry about interference from the cellular carriers and touch-screen users with small hands. I also learned about what it means to ‘program on the backend’ and attended a career fair.

The conference was great fun and I learned a lot. My only regret is that I didn’t attend the conference earlier in my time at Columbia. In the future, I guess I’ll need to pay the experience forward, and attend the conference as an alumni volunteer!