The SPLASH Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop encourages graduate students (PhD and MSc) and senior undergraduate students to pursue research in programming languages. This workshop will provide mentoring sessions on how to prepare for and thrive in graduate school and in a research career, focusing both on cutting-edge research topics and practical advice. The workshop brings together leading researchers and junior students in an inclusive environment in order to help welcome newcomers to our field of programming languages research. The workshop will show students the many paths that they might take to enter and contribute to our research community.
PLMW’s core mission is to foster the development of the next generation of researchers in our community. In past years, PLMW has been organized as a one-day (in-person) workshop with invited talks on research topics and practical advice, with ad-hoc mentoring taking place throughout the day, especially during breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee breaks. Since the workshop will be occurring virtually this year, we have designed the program to focus more on small-group discussion and mentoring than on presentations. PLMW@SPLASH will consist of a mix of small-group mentoring sessions, where students can chat with mentors in small groups (organized by topics) and large-group “ask-me-anything” sessions. Topics covered will include:
- How to network effectively at a conference? How to find your cohort? How to find a mentor and what to look for?
- What communication skills are essential for a research career? To give a good presentation? A good poster session talk? To write an outstanding paper?
- How do people pick their research area of interest or your advisor/mentor?
- What are the new, emerging areas in PL/SE?
- What are the differences between a research career in industry and in academia?
- What are the important work/life issues researchers deal with?
- How did PL/SE researchers successfully navigate their training experiences?
More information about the workshop organization will be available soon.
"PLMW changed my life and my career trajectory. I honestly applied to POPL on a whim one year because I was working a low-wage job in Los Angeles (where POPL was being held) and being a PhD student volunteer was the only way I could afford to attend. ACM conferences can be expensive. It was only after volunteering at that conference and talking to Ranjit Jhala that I had it in my head that I might pursue a PhD. But in what, and how? And no one I work with has a PhD or gone to grad school for Computer Science, much less PL. This is where PLMW came in. Almost immediately, I met someone who had not only travelled a similar path, but openly engaged with me, and others who told me to follow up with them for help and mentorship applying to schools. Others I met even encouraged me to submit a paper or collaborate on a research paper with them. I had never written a single research paper before. I went from Pallet Jacks and helping 53 foot trucks back into a facility, hearing the sound of welding and machining all day, while sitting at a computer trying out small programmes in LISP, to being a fully-funded PhD student within a year. I owe a lot of that to PLMW."
— Krystal Maughan, PhD student, University of Vermont
"I went to my first PLMW in 2012, which was at a time where I had not really thought much about applying for PhD programs. PLMW's program taught me tons of things about research that I did not know, and was the first time I seriously considered an academic career. I still think back to some of the advice I got there whenever I write a paper or prepare a presentation. More importantly, participating in PLMW meant I was also there for one of the main conferences on Programming Languages and thus got to see the world's experts in the field present and discuss their work. That was slightly scary, but it turns out that people usually love it when somebody shares their interests. Lastly, but possibly most importantly, the people I met there for the first time became the friendly faces I already knew whenever I went to a conference afterward.”
— Fabian Muehlboeck, post-doctoral researcher, Institute of Science and Technology Austria
"I attended my first PLMW in 2017, having previously taken one programming languages course. I definitely did not understand most of the technical talks given at PLMW, and that's okay. My experience at PLMW greatly influenced my path since then. I got great advice for how to write papers and talks from Derek Dreyer's presentation, which has helped me ever since. I also applied to graduate school with a special interest in compiler correctness because of Amal Ahmed's talk during this same PLMW. I am currently starting my second year of my PhD program researching type preserving compilation because of PLMW. I also made wonderful friends who I still keep in touch with.
— Paulette Koronkevich, PhD student, University of British Columbia
“Big PL conferences were very intimidating to me, and PLMW takes the edge off that a lot. Having a community willing to teach you soft and technical skills is welcoming and helped me feel part of the fold. Besides that the lessons were very useful, PLMW has been very influential in how I write papers.”
— Simon Cooksey, post-doctoral researcher, University of Kent
"Coming from industry, PLMW made the world of PL research feel much more accessible than it had prior to my attendance. Even though it was remote, I felt I had the opportunity to engage with researchers and other prospective graduate students to get a sense of what PL research is like on a day-to-day basis. It also gave me perspective on the types of career tracks available after graduate school and how people find those opportunities. While I ended up choosing to stay in industry, PLMW helped me feel comfortable with that decision while also having a better sense of how to bring academic ideas into industry.
— Rory Sawyer, software engineer
Want even more perspectives from previous attendees? Click here!
Mentorship Workshop Application
Students who are interested in attending the workshop and would like to request funding to do so must fill out a short application. Student funding for PLMW operates on a reimbursement model: applicants selected for support will have a portion of their travel, housing, and/or registration fees reimbursed by PLMW after the conference. More information about the application will be available soon.
Other student-focused opportunities at SPLASH include the following:
If you have an accepted presentation at a SPLASH event and need travel support, please consider applying for SIGPLAN PAC funding.
PLMW is driven by two core values: diversity of the PL community and well-being of its members.
We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion strengthen the PL community both on an academic and on a personal level. We recognize that members of underrepresented and marginalized groups face unique challenges in their research careers. We are committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive, diverse environment that provides space for all to thrive and breathe. We are also committed to listening to your voices, admitting our mistakes, and working to address systemic issues that exist within the research community.
PLMW values the physical and mental well-being of all members of the PL community. We condemn all kinds of harassment, including sexual harassment. We are committed to talking openly about health and well-being issues that disproportionately affect the academic community, and to fighting the stigma of mental health issues.
PLMW organizers see its role in promoting these values as a three-part mission:
- Expose junior students to the PL research community: We want to provide the students with a genuine picture of what a research career in PL is like and with networking opportunities within the field. We want to establish mentoring relationships between junior and senior community members, connecting people from different areas, backgrounds, and geographic locations. In doing so, we place particular emphasis on students who lack exposure to PL research at their home institutions.
- Help students acquire skills necessary to successfully navigate a research career. These include technical and non-technical skills, such as reading research literature, technical communication, relationships with advisors, and coping with stressors of graduate school.
- Foster diversity and inclusion in the PL community by reaching out to, and mentoring, students from underrepresented groups.
We would like to bring our attendees’ attention to a few SIGPLAN initiatives beyond PLMW that share our values and goals. SIGPLAN CARES is a group of distinguished, senior researchers, available as a confidential resource for anyone who faces discrimination or harassment. SIGPLAN-M is an international long-term mentoring program for programming languages researchers.