Gabriella McLellan, a GCC engineering student, has been accepted into the 2nd annual hack.diversity internship program. The program’s mission is “a 100% increase in the number of blacks and latinos working in the innovation economy in Boston.” This is the first cohort to include Western Massachusetts community college students. Here are some snippets of my conversation with Gabriella last week.
Christine: So when did you become interested in computer science?
Gabriella: I came to GCC and took a variety of classes just trying new things, and took Java, Intro to Programming. It was amazing. Programming is so fun. That class really wrapped me up in it. Since then I’ve signed up for electrical engineering as my major, but I plan to finish my degree in computer programming.
Christine: What is it about Java that’s fun?
Gabriella: It’s about the way that you problem solve when you’re doing computer science. Understanding the way the computer will read what you write helps you structure problems and tackle bigger issues by breaking them down into steps, and making everything logical and progressive.
Christine: I understand you have to drive into Boston to meet with your internship cohort.
Gabriella: I do. It’s a long drive, but worth it. Hack Diversity is cool because instead of just being a summer job, it’s sort of a training program. We have monthly meetings that are either all day or all afternoon, where we talk about resume work, about how to present yourself to your employer, about how to network, and open lines of communication in your field. And about how to talk big picture, and how to focus people on your dream, and how to get there.
Christine: What are your impressions of your fellow interns?
Gabriella: We have some real talent! I don’t know how I snuck in. One person is working on a robotic arm! He has one right by his desk that he’s trying to get to pick things up and move them! We have people designing search engines. And I’m here with my two years of experience, and I’m going to do my very best!
Christine: Well, they saw something in you. What do you think that was?
Gabriella: A really big dream. I think that passion shows when I talk. I have always cared about the environment, that’s one of the reasons I started out as a biology major, and what I hope to do with computer science is to make it work towards environmental efforts, like cleanup in rivers and oceans. Right now we have barges that are able to skim the surface of water and collect trash, and I want to get a little more high tech—have something that can reach out and grab things.
Christine: So it would tie in with electrical engineering in that you would be programming robotics? Are you in the robotics club here?
Gabriella: I am! We meet every Friday from 12:00 to 2:00 pm. People can just drop in for an hour if they want. Right now we’re trying to make a robot that walks, a biped, really difficult. What’s really great is that we have so many diverse people in the club—people who are in the final track of engineering, and people who are just starting out, and doing pre-cal. I bring in my programming experience, and everyone has something to contribute. We’re learning from each other, picking things up.
Christine: What will you be doing for Liberty Mutual?
Gabriella: So I’ll work for Solaria Labs, a subsidiary. And what they do is try to innovate, and just come up with new ideas. Is that not so exciting? The way that I’m planning on using this internship is to connect myself to the Boston tech community. Hack Diversity will still meet over the course of the summer, giving us opportunities to network.
As Bob Barba, Internship Coordinator at GCC sums this up, GCC interns are doing compelling work at many amazing work sites, locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally. Gabriella’s internship continues this tradition and is yet another example of how our students are showing their mettle in a changing economy.
Interested in learning more about internship opportunities available? Are you an employer who would like to be matched with a GCC intern in one of our targeted program areas? Please get in touch!
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