ICLR 2020: My first (virtual) conference

The Eighth International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR) 2020 was held virtually due to the COVID19 outbreak, formerly to be held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was fortunate enough to receive a grant by Google and the Women in Machine Learning Workshop to attend this conference in the comfort of my home. Again thankfully, the Indian Standard Timings of the conference were after my office hours. So, I was able to attend a number of talks and workshop at ease.

On the first two days, I attended the ML-IRL workshop. [link] ML-IRL stands for Machine Learning In Real Life. There were four invited talks on the first day, followed by breakout sessions on Zoom where we could talk one on one with the speakers. I had a wonderful conversation with Andreas Gros who's a Data Scientist at Facebook. He gave me some priceless advice on life after undergrad, choosing the right mentor, and so much more.

WiML Panel Session

Breakout session with Sasha Luccioni [about]

The next and final two days, I attended a number of poster sessions, but I spent most of my time doing volunteer work for the Women in Machine Learning Workshop. I realized that there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes when these workshops are organised. The two hours were meticulously planned to the minute, and the responsibilities of volunteers and organizers was made very clear. I was in charge of managing the Zoom call during the panel session and the break out session with Sasha Luccioni [about], post doc at MILA. She is such a smart and funny person, talking to her was an absolute delight. She talked about interviewing for and working with 2018 ACM Turing Award Laureate Yoshua Bengio. She also shared her experience moving from the industry into research, and her passion for solutions focused on climate change. She took all our questions patiently, and highlighted the importance of project management especially in research organizations.

When I got my first research paper published, the conference dates clashed with my exams and I wasn't able to attend. ICLR going virtual gave me and others like me the golden opportunity of attending such a prestigious conference and making some great connections. For that, I'm eternally grateful. Congratulations to all the accepted authors!

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