Social Impact Internships: Dat Tran (’27)

Hi! I’m Dat, and I’m a freshman potentially double majoring in 6-4 (AI and Decision Making)
and 15-1 (Management). I was a Software Engineer Intern at the New Lynn Coalition this IAP;
New Lynn Coalition is made up of community, faith, and labor organizations with the primary
goal of unifying the working class and addressing the extreme income disparity in the US. For
my internship, I was working on automating their grocery delivery program to aid them in the
process of delivering food, from reaching out to families to optimizing delivery routes for food

The central social issue revolving around my internship is the concept of food insecurity, a concept that I have worked on throughout my highschool career. Because of this, it felt really
familiar to me, and I was already really motivated to aid them in their process. Based on the previous paragraph, you can probably already tell, but the way they tried tackling food insecurity was through a delivery program. It serves over 735 families throughout Lynn, and every week, they deliver food to a minimum of 90 families a week. I really admire the organization’s ability to constantly assist their local community, since COVID, to ensure everyone can have access to free food.

One thing I reflected on was the respect I have for volunteerings. Seeing other volunteers help
the organization organize delivery bags to assist in delivery was really eye-opening. Since
becoming more busy in college, volunteering has flown out my mind. The value of even just a
single hour has become exponentially more important to me, especially for academics. I find it
really hard for me to commit time for volunteering, but I admire those that are able to commit to
doing those hard-working tasks to alleviate the stresses on others. While I was able to
consistently volunteer in high school, I find myself working on larger solutions to issues such as
food insecurity, now working as an intern to develop software to aid in this battle.

Segueing back to the actual internship, I want to talk now about my impressions of the internship
and my thoughts overall. Going into the internship was pretty intimidating. The actual internship
title was called Software Optimization, and I wasn’t sure if that meant optimizing program
speeds or using more efficient algorithms to solve certain issues, but in reality, it simply meant to
broaden the usage of the code made by the previous intern. If it was the latter, I may have
struggled a lot more since that wasn’t something I really had done before.

This internship experience gave me a lot more freedom than I was initially expecting. Since this
organization was an NPO and not really a tech organization, a lot of the design process was on
me. This was really fun and cool for me to think of something by myself to implement for the
project. I enjoyed the entirety of the process, and I was glad that I had a lot of flexibility with my
internship to really enjoy the development. Making a CS project can be fun and all, especially
when you’re programming something you enjoy, but with the added benefit of actually helping
people makes it all the more worthwhile.

Tags: Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships IAP 2024

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