Over the next weeks, we will be featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. They will tell us about their experiences this summer, from exploring NYC to learning new technologies. First up are Kim and Keeyon, celebrating the Fellowship’s halfway mark!

KimberlyLeon

Kimberly Leon 

Startup: Birchbox
Hometown: Monterey Park, California
Special Talent: Expert sailor. Owns her own boat, which she likes to call “Lil Bit.” 

Working at Birchbox has been amazing from day one. I’m building the content api for the articles/videos/slideshows Birchbox makes and I’ll be integrating this with the website’s search results. My mentor, along with everyone else on the Tech team, is very accessible and willing to help whenever I hit a wall or have questions. The entire Tech team at Birchbox is really close and often the best part of my day is getting lunch and talking with some of the other Tech team members. Ananta (2013 fellow who interned at Birchbox and now works there full time) reached out to me early on and treated me to lunch. A few weeks later, the CTO and VP of Engineering made time out of their busy schedules to take me and the other two tech interns to lunch. Free food is truly the way to a college student’s heart.

Kim and Ananta with Toast the dog!

On Mondays and Wednesdays we have the hackNY Speakers Series from 7-9pm, and I’ve learned so much about startups (and other topics, notably data science) over the last five weeks. Coming into hackNY I knew nothing about getting a startup off the ground and over the past five weeks I’ve learned a lot about the role of VCs and what it takes to start a company from nothing. My favorite talk so far was Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed founder/CEO) being interviewed by Chris Wiggins. They poked fun at each other throughout the talk, which was really fun to watch (I also realized in the middle of the talk that Jonah’s sister is Chelsea Peretti, one of my favorite comedians. WATCH BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, IT’S A GREAT SHOW!!).

Even outside the speaker series, I spend a lot of time with the other fellows. We don’t leave Palladium most weeknights out of pure exhaustion, but usually our weekends are pretty busy. I’ve walked the High Line, pigged out at Smorgasburg, experienced the Rocky Horror Picture Show, walked/danced at the Pride Parade, and played countless games of Werewolf and Resistance with the 2015 fellows and mentors.

The first five weeks went by far too quickly, but I’m excited for what the second half of hackNY has in store!

 

 

KeeyonOffice

Keeyon Ebrahimi

Startup: Clarafai
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Special Talent: Remembering quotes and songs from movies. 

When I got into hackNY, many alumNY told me that I was about to have the best summer of my life. This sounded great, but I was skeptical. The internship, speaker series, and meeting other fellows seemed cool, but not to the level of excitement every past fellow radiated.

Now after experiencing a little bit of hackNY, that excitement is starting to make sense.
I’ve fallen in love with how my hackNY class truly grills each amazing speaker we hear from. These hard questions lead to true and honest insight from speakers, which makes the talks so much better than the glorified sugar coated large auditorium presentations I am used to.

I knew I would love working for a small and exciting start up, but I thought I was only going to be able to help on the technical side. I had no idea I would also be trusted with contributing to significant business and strategic decisions. Another priceless value hackNY has made possible.

Above all is the value of having a community of like minded yet diverse fellows right outside my dorm room. If I want to work on a project, I can walk outside my door and find multiple hyper talented partners overly willing to help. If I feel like a fun ten plus player game of Resistance, I can send out a quick message and have a group of friends ready to play. We’ve had days together walking the High Line and nights together out on the town. We’ve made memories with big groups rallying at hackathons, and also with one on one conversations.

It’s impossible fully grasp the beauty of hackNY until you experience it yourself. I know I am only a little more than halfway through my hackNY experience, but I am already excited for the day where I can tell future hackNY fellows that they are about to have the best summer of their lives.