Closing the gap - from theory to practice

Packed with different talks, many in parallel, the day offered a wide variety to the participants. From computer science topics to interdisciplinary and entrepreneurship presentations, they had it all.  Amelia - our fellow Netceterian, masterfully led the presentation and explained the technical and security concerns for handling and processing credit card transactions. Although there were some insecure questions regarding the subject at the beginning, we are sure that now everyone understands better how Netcetera makes it easier for cardholders to safely and securely go shopping online.

Here are some of Amelia's reasons for participating and how she prepared for the stage:

What motivated you to participate as a speaker at this year's VIScon Symposium?

Amelia: I am motivated to participate in conferences to share my experiences working on an interesting product that helps our customers with real problems. In particular, for student conferences, there is a large gap typically between the software techniques learned in university, and the actual reality of updating and running services with a live production 24/7 environment.  It's interesting to try to bridge that gap, and give a window into how life as a software developer looks after graduation. A final reason is that I want to encourage women in software development. It’s an interesting, multi-faceted, and rewarding career that unfortunately too many women get discouraged from. I would hope to encourage, and support anyone to get interested in technical fields, particularly women! VIScon had a nice mix of speakers, and it's great to see that diversity also in the students at ETH.

Can you briefly walk us through the preparation that went into your presentation?

Amelia: To prepare for VIScon, I started by working out a rough outline of my important themes and then reviewing internally with the team the overall points and flow. It took me about 4 weeks to create the slides and detailed notes for the presentation. My final step is to practice and practice the flow and delivery of the content. I believe I did 6 complete run-throughs of the presentation with slides and a timer to practice the flow, the transitions, and the how-to explains the concepts to the audience. 

It's not easy to muster the courage to present in front of an audience. Any advice you would give your colleagues who are interested in holding a talk in the future?

Amelia: I find a topic for a presentation by examining what I think is the most interesting about my projects, or what knowledge I would like to share that I have acquired. Once the general idea is there, I focus on what key take ways I want to share with the audience. For example, my takeaway from VIScon was hopefully: Availability, performance, and security are not easy, and require many independent steps to achieve success in production services. Then a final piece of advice is to give yourself enough time to practice, practice and practice! Realistic practice in front of a mirror will always produce a better presentation.


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