Big Risks and Great Rewards: How HighTech Bound Got Me Out Of My Comfort Zone

My name is Surabhi Keesara, I am from Tewksbury, Massachusetts, and applying to the Hightech Bound internship was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Computer science has long been a part of my life. Not only are both of my parents, and my sister, software engineers, but I have grown up taking programming classes at various summer camps and weekly STEM classes. Nonetheless, my experience with programming has always been limited to the classroom—solving the immediate problem in front of me. Not to mention, as much as I  love computer science, I have always doubted if I would enjoy a full-time job in software engineering. So, when my school posted about the HighTech Bound internship in our daily afternoon announcements, I was immediately interested. Scrolling through the IOL blog and reading about previous interns, I was intimidated by their experience—each of these interns seemed to be incredibly accomplished. In spite of this hesitation, and my general fear that I had no idea what I was doing, I pushed myself to apply.  

Fast forward five months and, surprise, I am not only working at the IOL but feel completely at home. My time at this internship has been incredible, my favorite part being the opportunity to learn. My partner Nico and I built a tool to test our group’s software and made an installation video for IOL INTERACT, the NVMe protocol testing software. After finishing these projects, we got the opportunity to make edits to the actual IOL testing interface. Thus, we got to sit in bug scrub meetings, get critique on our code, and experience the back and forth dialog that professional software engineers use. 

My previous experience with computer science was rudimentary compared to the project I was assigned to when I started the internship. I barely knew what Linux was or how to use it and spent my first day googling online tutorials. However, I learned to be patient and kept pushing myself to reach new understandings of what I was doing—I learned how to pick up things along the way and was surrounded by reliable resources. Beyond giving me time to do independent research, my team gave me access to state-of-the-art technology that I could study, surrounding me with an experienced staff that was both willing and able to help. Each student and employee at the IOL knows what it’s like to be a newbie and to problem solve. Whether it be explaining difficult topics or giving me familiarity with the tech we used, they were reliable. 

I found that the directors of this internship really made a point to take care of each intern. While this is a paid internship, the expectation is that you learn, not that you march in and immediately understand your project. This structure allows for growth and is fostered by site visits to other tech labs and facilities, tech talks with industry professionals, and an opportunity to experience the professions we have an interest in. Overall, I would recommend this internship to anyone and everyone who wants to learn more about computer science—or even just STEM in general.