As Kellie Dinh '19 starts her final year as a Computer Science major at Bryn Mawr, she’s taking with her the lessons she learned as a hackNY fellow this past summer. The prestigious 10-week program introduces tech-minded students to the New York City startup scene.
Kellie lived with her cohort in downtown Manhattan, walking distance from many of the startups with which hackNY partners. Companies selected to partner with hackNY have internship programs focused on innovative tech and mentoring. Kellie was placed with her first choice, BuzzFeed. She interned with the software engineering team to get a hands-on look at the role engineering plays in a rapidly growing media company.
“I was never given as much responsibility as an intern as I was at BuzzFeed. I got to learn all about the life cycle of how a feature is pitched, designed, and eventually implemented and deployed,” she says.
Working on front-end development, Kellie supported many projects that everyone who opened BuzzFeed’s home page would immediately see.
Amazon Prime Day, a 36-hour period during which the e-commerce giant offers major discounts, brought about one of Kellie’s largest projects. The Prime Day dropdown menu that Kellie built was featured right on BuzzFeed’s homepage.
“What I worked on with building this menu for Prime Day was really exciting because I got to deploy it and see it a minute later on the site. I could just send ‘BuzzFeed.com’ to my friends and family, and they’d be able to see this,” says Kellie. “Seeing all the different people that I know viewing my work and interacting with it, seeing that impact as an intern was really awesome.”
While internships with well-known companies can often be intimidating, Kellie felt prepared to contribute to her team while learning complex technical skills.
“Bryn Mawr helped me feel like I deserved to be there. In meetings, I was never afraid to voice my opinions,” she says. Kellie also credits the company’s work culture, saying that “BuzzFeed cared about my opinion, and I always felt like I could say what I wanted to.”
In addition to their internships, fellows visited New York City-based startups twice each week to meet some of the people contributing to New York’s tech community. Through this curated speaker series, Kellie attended talks given by technologists, founders, CEOs, investors, and many other active members of the tech community.
hackNY fellows also volunteered in programs centered on positive social impact in the city. Their work centered on promoting diversity and inclusivity in tech. In teams of up to five people, they worked with startups or other groups committed to social good.
Kellie worked with ScriptEd, an organization that aims to help students in under-resourced schools develop coding skills and professional experiences to prepare them for careers in technology.
Along with three other fellows, Kellie helped create a website meant for students to upload their projects and share their work with friends and family, as well as with recruiters for internships. She worked primarily on the front-end of the website, designing much of the site.
“We got to present our work to the team at ScriptEd, and they were really happy with it…a lot of hackNY alumni end up volunteering at ScriptEd and teaching some of these CS courses—it’s a really awesome partnership,” she says.
Kellie has already used her knowledge and experiences to give back to the Bryn Mawr community. Kellie and Jocelyn Dunkley '20 co-founded SisterHacks, the first hackathon for the Seven Sisters Colleges. SisterHacks fosters a supportive learning environment meant to empower women, trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming students, and potentially spark their interest in tech. She also shared her experience as a hackNY fellow with potential Computer Science majors by speaking on a panel hosted by the Computer Science department last month.
Kellie’s summer was both extremely busy and rewarding. Reflecting on her time as a fellow, she says, “A lot of the emphasis at hackNY is building your community.” Familiar with the crucial role networking plays in the tech world, Kellie says she was able to “find peers with similar interests as me, who are invested in making tech more ethical. I also got to feel like I was a part of the larger tech community in New York.”