The Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) conference is an annual event that brings together students, professionals, and allies from across the cybersecurity industry. Founded in 2013, WiCyS aims to promote career ownership and facilitate recruitment, retention, and advancement for women in the field of cybersecurity.

For early career professionals, WiCyS offers a unique opportunity to connect with industry leaders, expand their network, and gain valuable insights into the latest trends and best practices. The 2024 WiCyS conference was a resounding success, with an impressive attendance that maxed out our 2,200 capacity in just under 30 minutes after registration opened, showcasing the overwhelming enthusiasm and interest in this premier cybersecurity conference.

The conference provides a supportive environment where attendees can learn from experienced professionals, participate in hands-on training workshops, and showcase their skills in various competitions and events. One of the key benefits of attending WiCyS is the opportunity to engage with potential employers and explore career opportunities.

As a first-time attendee, the annual WiCyS conference can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. With thousands of attendees, countless networking opportunities, and a jam-packed schedule, it’s essential to have a game plan in place. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate your first WiCyS like a seasoned pro, ensuring you make the most of this transformative experience.

 

💡 Apply for the WiCyS Scholarship:

If you’re a student or early-career professional, consider applying for the highly coveted WiCyS student, volunteer or military scholarship ahead of time. Recipients receive complimentary registration, lodging, and additional perks, alleviating the financial burden of attending the conference. The application process is competitive, so be sure to showcase your achievements, passion, and commitment to cybersecurity.

Note: WiCyS offers equity and advocacy scholarships specifically for individuals who have been historically underrepresented. By providing these scholarships, WiCyS aims to create more opportunities and support for those who have faced systemic barriers and lack of representation in this important industry. For example, the scholarship encompasses individuals that are neurodiverse, LGBTQIA+, mobility disadvantaged, hearing impaired, vision impaired, a military spouse, black, LatinX/Hispanic, Indigenous, and Native American.

💡Arrive Early, Beat the Crowds:

While arriving on the conference day itself may seem convenient, getting to WiCyS a day early can be a game-changer. By beating the crowds and checking in ahead of time, you’ll have the opportunity to settle into your accommodations, unwind, and mentally prepare for the whirlwind of activities to come.

Arriving early not only ensures a stress-free start to your conference experience but also provides a valuable head start. With your room secured, you can take the time to explore the venue at a leisurely pace, familiarizing yourself with the layout and pinpointing the locations of your must-attend sessions. This insider knowledge will prove invaluable on the first day, allowing you to navigate the conference halls with confidence and arrive at your favorite sessions without the hassle of getting lost or caught in bottlenecks.

 

💡Register for Sessions in Advance:

With over 200 sessions happening concurrently, it’s crucial to plan your WiCyS schedule in advance using the Whova app. Popular sessions like training workshops, panel discussions, lightning talks, and the Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions fill up fast. Registering early ensures you secure a spot in the sessions most aligned with your interests and goals. The agenda is packed with a diverse array of topics from technical skills to career development.

 

💡Master the Art of Networking:

Networking is at the core of the WiCyS experience, with numerous structured and informal opportunities to connect. The career fair allows you to directly interact with recruiters from major companies and government agencies seeking top cybersecurity talent.

Beyond the career fair, WiCyS facilitates making new contacts through community village meetups, regional and student chapter gatherings, affinity group socials, and evening receptions and networking events. The Whova app helps identify and connect with people with shared backgrounds, interests, or geographic locations ahead of time so that you can schedule a time to meet with them.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to new people between sessions, during meals, or at after-hours socials. Prepare an elevator pitch highlighting your goals and accomplishments. Many lifelong personal and professional relationships blossom from the connections made at WiCyS each year.

With over 4,000 attendees from all levels and facets of the cybersecurity field, WiCyS provides an unparalleled opportunity to expand your network and learn from a diverse range of perspectives and experiences. Embrace the many chances to create new professional relationships.

Pro Tip: A significant mistake people often make is failing to maintain active communication with the individuals they met during a conference after the event has concluded. This tends to sever the connections formed at the conference. Therefore, at the end of the conference, it is advisable to send a thank-you note or email to all the connections you have made during the event and maintain regular communication with them. This practice will help you stay in touch and continuously expand your professional network.

💡Take Advantage of the Career Fair at WiCyS:

WiCys organizes a career fair during every conference. During the career fair, various companies and universities booths are present. This is the best resource to network with industry professionals of your dream companies and get to learn about open positions they might have or just drop in your resume for future consideration. Before the conference, be sure to print out a few copies of your resume to distribute during the career fair. As you go to each booth, introduce yourself  with your elevator pitch and try make a lasting impression. Your elevator pitch will definitely come in handy for concise yet lasting introduction as there tends to be a huge rush on all the booths.

Pro tip: At WiCyS, some companies conduct on-the-spot interviews during the career fair, while others may reach out with an interview opportunity after the event. Therefore, it is crucial to participate in the career fair to maximize your chances of securing interviews and potential employment opportunities.

💡Leverage Career Village Resources:

WiCyS offers attendees exclusive access to career resources like resume reviews from industry professionals. The career fair hosts representatives from top organizations actively recruiting new talent. Don’t miss the opportunity to have a professional headshot taken – a valuable asset for your personal branding. These resources provide an invaluable chance to get personalized feedback, explore job opportunities, and make connections that can propel your cybersecurity career forward.

 

💡Explore the Diverse Session Offerings:

The WiCyS conference features a wide variety of session formats to cater to different learning styles. Core events include inspiring keynote speakers, hands-on training workshops covering the latest tools and techniques, panel discussions tackling relevant themes, rapid-fire lightning talks, and the highly anticipated Capture the Flag (CTF) hacking competitions. You can also participate in the poster competition to showcase your research or projects. The bird-of-a-feather sessions allow for focused networking and in-depth discussions in niche areas of cybersecurity.

 

💡Prepare for Quick Connections- Bring your Custom Business Cards:

In a bustling conference environment, you need to make a lasting impression quickly. Order customized business cards with your photo and a LinkedIn QR code, making it easy for others to connect with you digitally. This simple addition to your personal brand can go a long way in fostering meaningful connections.

 

💡Prioritize Comfort and Convenience:

With so much ground to cover, it’s essential to prioritize your comfort and convenience. Wear comfortable shoes, pack on-the-go snacks and water, and dress in layers to accommodate varying temperatures. By taking care of your physical needs, you’ll be better equipped to stay focused and engaged throughout the conference.

 

💡Conquer Networking Nerves and Showcase Your Strengths with Confidence:

Approaching strangers can be daunting, but remember, everyone at WiCyS is there to connect and learn from one another. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and strike up conversations. The cybersecurity community is incredibly welcoming, and you never know where a simple hello might lead.

Pro Tip: Before the conference, prepare a concise elevator pitch that highlights your accomplishments, goals, and what you hope to achieve by attending WiCyS. Don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements and aspirations with confidence – this is your opportunity to shine and make a lasting impression.

💡Prioritize Mental Health and Self-Care:

Conferences can be mentally and physically draining, with a whirlwind of activities, socializing, and information overload. It’s essential to prioritize your mental health and well-being throughout the event. Don’t be afraid to take breaks when needed. Find a quiet corner, practice deep breathing exercises, or simply step away from the hustle and bustle to recharge. Remember, you’ll have a more enriching experience if you’re well-rested and rejuvenated.

 

💡Foster an Inclusive Environment:

At WiCyS, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and identities. Approach these interactions with an open mind, embracing the unique perspectives and experiences of students, professionals, minorities, individuals with different communication styles or abilities, and members of underrepresented groups. Listen with empathy and curiosity, and create an environment where everyone feels welcomed, respected, and empowered to be their authentic selves.

 

By following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate your first WiCyS conference like a pro. Embrace the opportunities for networking, learning, and personal growth, and get ready to unlock a world of possibilities in the exciting field of cybersecurity. 🙂

 

 

Email us at [email protected] if you’re interested in becoming a member, volunteer or a part of the leadership.