Data Girl Danjela Lura on Landing a Tech Internship
We caught up with ACT student, Danjela Lura, Computer Science major, and founder of the “ACT Data Girls” club after she presented the “Landing a Tech Internship” webinar during International Education Week in fall 2020. Danjela was keen to talk about her experience and the ways that her liberal arts education helped her land the internship and successfully complete her role.
In her own words...
...about the Internship
During the summer of 2020, I was given the chance to be part of a quite prominent three-month internship program called Outreachy. This experience brought to my attention the importance of having a well-rounded education.
The work Outreachy interns do mainly revolves around contributing to Free and Open Source Software projects. The program is oriented towards diversifying the tech ecosystem, which is why underrepresented groups of people are encouraged to apply. However, being in an underrepresented group isn’t enough, you have to demonstrate your skills and display the potential to perform well technically as well as be an integral part of the open-source community you will work with.
The work I did during my Outreachy internship was related to Software Internationalization and the project I worked on was “Improving Internationalization Support for the Guix Data Service” which is aimed at providing people who don’t speak English with a feasible way to interact with Guix Data.
The Guix Data Service processes, stores and provides data about Guix over time. It provides a complementary interface to Guix itself by having a web interface and API to browse and access the data. In a high-level overview, the project was mainly concerned with extracting, storing, and displaying translations for several parts of the Guix Data Service.
...about the Liberal Arts Education + Tech Internship: Compatibility Points
So, let's dive right into the compatibility points between this internship and small liberal arts colleges. What I had the chance to observe during my internship was that I had to be an active part of the community and participate in discussions. There are times when no documentation exists about how to use a certain tool, so googling won't help you. The good thing about open source communities is that the creators or maintainers of the tools are really responsive and willing to help others with ideas or solutions.
This kind of climate is notable at our college, additionally, people are not blamed for not knowing something and this provided a really good buffer for me to go on and freely ask questions during my internship. So, interpersonal skills are extremely important as well.
I have taken many GER (General Education Requirement) courses, which I was initially a little bit skeptical about, but those courses proved to be very helpful in building writing and communication skills. These skills are important because you will be required to document your work experience through reports or blog posts and that can be really challenging if you don’t like writing or don’t have enough writing experience.
Respecting diversity and acknowledging differences while working on a project is important as well, and I believe liberal arts colleges stress this through the courses they deliver.
During my ACT orientation, there was a great emphasis given to the fact that no anti-social behavior would be accepted. This really remained in me because I had never before been part of an environment that supported these kinds of principles, so I tried to treat the divergent identities we have at our college with respect and appreciation. I saw this pattern occurring throughout my internship as well, but this time it was way more noticeable as the community was more diverse.
I am really glad I was given the opportunity to provide the tech community of my college with details related to my first internship experience. The “Landing a Tech Internship” webinar mainly focused on emphasizing how the soft skills I gained while attending ACT facilitated landing my internship and boosted my chances of performing well. My goal was to inspire others to take advantage of the classes outside of their major so that they can gain a competitive advantage and land their own tech internship.
- What is International Education Week?
The “Landing a Tech Internship” webinar was delivered as part of International Education Week at ACT. The week celebrates international educational opportunities, highlighting stories and lessons from those who have worked, studied or interned abroad or in an international setting. ACT encourages students, faculty, and staff to participate as attendees and as presenters. Shared experiences within the community can be the catalyst for others to take the next step in their career path.