Social Impact Internships: Melody Wen (’24)
The Power of Conversation, Collaboration and Building Representation
This fall, I am working with Almost Fun. Almost Fun’s mission is to create culturally-responsive, relatable, and free learning resources. As a software Engineer Intern, my role is to build the interactive math lessons that the content creators draft. For instance, one of my current projects is to build a “percent-equation” lesson. Within the lesson, I have to construct an interactive learning module where the steps for solving a percent-equation problem are clearly explained. In addition, I constructed a “Quick Practice” module that provided dynamic feedback for students based on their answer choices. In order to build these lessons, I have been utilizing the React.js language.
After working with Almost Fun for almost a month now, I have found that my mentor, Greg Zecchini, has been extremely influential in helping me be successful. He gives me the autonomy to work and experiment on the lessons in my own time, yet he is extremely willing to walk me through any problems I may encounter. This balance has allowed me to not feel unnecessarily stuck on a bug for too long, while still feeling challenged in my work. In addition, Greg has been open to talking about his own experiences in the software engineering field and the fundamentals of programming conventions. As someone who potentially wants to become a software engineer in the future, it’s been great to get a casual, firsthand experience.
One aspect that has stood out to me is the weekly standup meetings. Every Wednesday afternoon, the entire team gets on a call and shares what they have been working on for the past week. I hear about the latest developments in the expansion to Snapchat, for instance, or the partnerships being formed with school districts. It’s been nice to see the bigger picture and the current progress being made to the company’s goals, especially since most of my work can sometimes be isolating. It’s a reassuring feeling to know that the lessons I have built will benefit students, rather than just remain floating around on the internet.
In addition, during our weekly standup meetings, we have a discussion about the week’s podcast or reading material. The weekly podcasts’ topics range from an interview with the National Teacher of the Year, to a perspective on what “culturally responsive” really means.
Having a weekly podcast wasn’t something I expected going into the internship; however, it is something I extremely appreciate now. It helps me understand the issues in the field and understand what we are trying to accomplish. It’s too easy to fall under the white savior complex, for a lack of a better term, and feel that we naturally just have all of the solutions. As we continue to rotate through different speakers, I’m excited to continue learning about different perspectives of this work.
Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for IAP and spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!