No regrets for this first-timer @PEARC22!

By Janet Jiang (Trinity University), in the above photo with Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek/Boise State University).

For my first conference, I would say that I enjoyed every bit of the PEARC22 Student Program! It was my first time in Boston, first time to board an airplane alone, first time to ride on public transportation, and many more firsts. PEARC22 broadened my horizons in many new ways.

Granted, I had a steep learning curve once I arrived learning how to navigate airport shuttles and the train; generally feeling out of my element in a city that is quite different from my hometown. Nonetheless, even with COVID-19 precautions, this conference was completely enjoyable.

As an undergrad with little high-performance computing (HPC) experience, I didn’t know what to expect. I had been advised by mentors at my university to network, explore the wide range of computationally-intensive research that is presented at the conference, and to not just sit by myself somewhere and let time fly. So I did my best to do just that. It was hard for me, at first, I will admit. I was probably one of the only teens in the student cohort. With people who have so much more experience, knowledge and truly know their interests in life, it wasn’t easy for me to approach them at first. However, with more advice and encouragement from fellow students in the program, I managed to do just that. I got to know as many as I could, and enjoyed my time hanging out with them each evening when the conference ended. Hearing about their journeys was inspiring. I also enjoyed the offsite networking event where we bonded through games, karaoke and a range of fun activities. I have many fun memories!

In addition to having fun, I learned a LOT through the conference tutorials and workshops. My favorite was Introduction to Advanced Features in MPI. I enjoyed listening to the presenters and it wasn’t difficult for me to pay attention the entire time, which is something I personally struggle with. The information presented was intriguing and it made me want to learn more. The poster session showcased research in a more visual way – it was also nice to talk to poster presenters directly and ask them questions.

Overall, this experience was amazing, to say the least. I am now more confident just going up and talking to someone new – this is something that I always had a difficult time doing. I also learned how to
improve my resume and elevator pitch, and learned about careers in HPC, should I later decide to choose that path in life.

Attending PEARC22 not only broadened my geographic and intellectual horizons, it provided me with a network of people that helped strengthen my interpersonal skills. PEARC22 brought me out of my comfort zone by a longshot, and I have absolutely no regrets!

Thank you!

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