Social Impact Internships: Jackie Lin (’24)

My name is Jackie Lin, and I am a freshman from New York City. I started coding three years ago, during my sophomore year of high school, and found that I really enjoyed the logical elegance of computer science. Throughout the rest of high school, I sought out opportunities to learn more about the field, whether it was taking more classes or joining the Girls Who Code club. Although I’m not sure where I will ultimately end up, I know that it will most likely be some form of software engineering.

One of the biggest questions I’ve been asking myself is what I can do with my skills. Not just what languages I know or what services I’m familiar with, but how I can make a positive difference. I began looking to the PKG Center for ELO opportunities because I felt that it offered me the perfect way to explore how I could combine software with service. 

n*gram health stood out to me immediately for their novelty. They’re a company that develops immersive digital therapies for seniors through the use of Augmented Reality (AR). In a time where living in a pandemic has become an integral part of the foreseeable future, I thought their mission was timely and important. Zoom has become a fact of everyday life, and instead of lamenting the disadvantages of a virtual world, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to innovate our way through it—not just to make the best out of the current situation, but also because virtual interaction opens up a world of new possibilities.

The other aspect of n*gram health that caught my attention was their focus on seniors. One of my best service experiences to date involves caring for and interacting with visually impaired seniors. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something about seniors that brings out a different part of me. 

It’s now been nearly 7 weeks since I started as a Software Development Intern for n*gram health. Though it has been quite difficult to balance the internship with my other responsibilities, I’ve found the work to be extremely rewarding. Knowing that my skills are directly contributing to a software tool that is not detached, but rather humanistic and impactful, motivates me to continue. Although an unfortunate schedule conflict has prevented me from attending a live session with seniors so far, I will be able to meet some of them for the first time next week, and I’m excited to see their reactions. 

In the meantime, I’ve learned a lot from this experience in many aspects. On the technical side, I’ve been able to gain experience with AWS, which I had no prior experience with. This is my first internship, and I’ve only ever coded in a classroom setting before. Not knowing what the final product is going to look like is definitely something new and exciting to me. It’s helped me develop a stronger attitude about experimentation, such as trying out different solutions to different software problems.

In addition, I feel that I’ve gained valuable experiences working remotely. I’ve been able to find a balance between autonomously working and also communicating and seeking direction from my supervisors. It is necessary for me to mention that a large contributing factor to the positive experience I’ve had so far is the open and understanding nature of my supervisors. I don’t feel like a student listening to a teacher or an employee listening to her boss; instead, I feel like a trusted partner whose opinion is valued. 

Overall, I have nothing but good things to say about my service experience, and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the semester will hold. I will soon be moving on to the AR aspect of the internship, which I’m extremely excited about. I’m also excited to meet the seniors who will be served by this technology. Ultimately, I think that this opportunity has taught me that service is a worthwhile and valuable way to apply my technical skills to the real world. 

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!

Tags: Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships Fall 2020, Tech for Good

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