Posted on July 8, 2021
My name is Vicky Zheng, and I’m planning to double major in Computer Science and Engineering (6-3) and Management (15-1). My experience with programming started with the drag-and-drop challenges on Code.org in middle school, and throughout high school, I’ve been taking CS classes, exploring cybersecurity, and creating projects at hackathons. As a freshman, I’m currently exploring areas I can further my skills and also apply them in a practical manner.
In high school, I got into volunteering through Key Club, and through Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s PKG Social Impact Internships, I am able to combine my love for software development and my desire to give back and help others.
Over IAP, I’m working with Kupenda as a software engineer intern to edit and test their application to help children with disabilities in low-income countries. Kupenda trains thousands of families, youth, and leaders as disability advocates who help 40,000 children with disabilities access education, medical care, and more [each year].
On a higher level, this internship gives me experience of publishing an app that is then immediately used in a real world setting. Because our team has daily stand up meetings, I feel very connected with the team in Kenya and their process in helping these children. In addition to the daily stand up meetings, we also have weekly meetings to demo the changes we’ve made in the application and then incorporate feedback from the Kenya team.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this experience is the team I’m working with. I appreciate how everyone welcomes suggestions and how we can set our own goals on how much we want to accomplish in a time frame. My supervisor is very accommodating during this time and she always sets clear goals for the week. Particularly, I really enjoy working with Julia Jia, another MIT student working with Kupenda. Together, we help each other overcome the learning curve associated with working with CommCare and any obstacles we encounter.
Overall, I really enjoy how my knowledge of software development impacts people in the real world in a very immediate way. Ultimately, I think this opportunity gave me the chance to work on an app outside of a short term hackathon setting and into a long term, real-world environment.
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