Monthly Archives: September 2008

2008 Google AU & NZ Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Retreat

Wow. What a fantastic trip! I usually hate going to Sydney for any reason (I’m cursed – every time I go there, something bad happens!) but this retreat was so relaxing, interesting and fun! I felt thoroughly spoiled! The only thing that went wrong was that I ran out of money – but seriously, buying three pairs of shoes in Paddington will do that 🙂

I’m digressing a little. I just came home from a three day retreat in Sydney that was part of the prize for being a finalist in the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. I spent the last few days with the other Finalists and Scholars, as well as last year’s Scholars and the Google team. What a fantastic group of people! What awesome offices! What delicious food! Hehe!

My welcome pack from GoogleI’m gushing, I know, but I really haven’t had such a lovely relaxing time in a long time. It was worth taking the break from studies to make the trip to Sydney. I was welcomed at the hotel with a gift pack that included a digital photo frame and journal – perfect for recording the retreat!

My roommate Tamara was lovely – she was also very excited about being there since it was her first trip outside of Adelaide!

The next morning was the formal start of the retreat. We had breakfast at the Google offices – complete with pancake machine – and were welcomed warmly by Will and the other Googlers. The day was spent conducting workshops on how we can help encourage women into IT, as well as listening to talks from Googlers.

The afternoon was spent doing an activity – either walking along the beach, visiting famous Sydney landmarks or shopping in Paddington (perhaps the walk along the beach would have been cheaper for me, hehe). The evening was spent at Wolfie’s in The Rocks, where we had a wine tasting session and a really delicious dinner.

The next day, we had more talks and workshops – the ideas and intelligence of the other Scholars impressed me no end. It was great to spend some time with women in IT that had similar goals and ideas.

Google also discussed different career paths in the company. This was very interesting for me. I’m not a computer science student, per se, my degrees are more related to the business side of IT. So while I can code, it’s not my strongest attribute, therefore an engineer role may not be the best for me. But one of the Googlers – Mickey – spoke about his role as a Product Manager. This sounds a lot more like the kind of work I’d love to do. I’d still use my technical skills but also make use of my strengths in business analysis and management. I’ll definitely be investigating that position later on, because I fell a little bit in love with the Google offices this last weekend 🙂

The second evening was spent on a harbour cruise, gorging ourselves on seafood, then partying at Darling Harbour. The retreat officially finished then, but the girls met up for breakfast the next morning and a few of us wandered over to the Aquarium. Overall, it was such a great trip – I’ve met some amazing people, made some new friends and discovered that even Sydney has some highlights, hehe.

Thank you so much to Google for organising the retreat. I really had a blast. Thanks to the other Anita Borg Scholars and Finalists – it was an absolute pleasure meeting you all and I’m looking forward to working with you on some of our initiatives. I’m heading back into the second half of this semester tomorrow feeling a lot less stressed and a lot more excited about the work ahead.

This Anita Borg scholarship has given me so many great opportunities. If you’re reading this and you are eligible to enter, I’d certainly recommend it!

2008 Anita Borg Scholars