The following interview was originally published in the HackNY FieldGuide for the tenth hackNY hackathon where hackNY celebrated the graduation of its fifth class of hackNY Fellows. Kyle Ryan ’14, interviewed a selection of fellows during the summer to discuss what made them tick.
Want to become a hackNY fellow this summer? Checkout apply.hackny.org.
Sruti Modekurty currently attends Carnegie Mellon University, she worked at Birchbox this summer as a hackNY fellow.
Where’d you grow up?
I was born in India but my family moved to California when I was a baby and I grew up there. My dad is a hardware engineer, my younger sister is learning to code (finally convinced her), and actually pretty much everyone in my family is either an engineer or doctor. I have a lot to look up and live up to!
From an early age I knew I wanted to do something with computers. Sometimes my dad would teach me things, like taking apart a computer. I was pretty lucky because I happened to join a robotics team in middle school. I continued it throughout high school and that convinced me to study engineering.
I never really gave a second thought to being a woman in tech because growing up I was taught that I could do whatever I wanted. It didn’t matter that I was a girl.
Have you had any revelations in the past few years?
I realized the world is never going to be perfect. But I can still make an impact. I figured out that I do have the capability to change the world for the better, I think everyone does. Some people just act upon it more than others.
What is your biggest struggle?
I’m always battling time. There are so many things I want to do and experience but I feel like I never have enough time. Sometimes I end up doing too many things, and I lose sight of what truly matters.
What advice would you give the person you were 4 years ago?
Four years ago I was in high school and I was incredibly shy. I was so afraid of talking to people. The advice I would give myself is be confident. Don’t let your insecurities define who you are or who you think you can be. You think people are noticing things about you, but really, they are too wrapped up in themselves.
Where do you see yourself 4 years from now?
There’s so much potential to use technology in a high impact, meaningful way. I feel like some startups are too focused on making incremental changes to the lives of people who already have a nice life. I want to use technology to save and really improve lives. I’m still figuring out how to do that.