2014 Fellow Interview: Sruti

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

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.

Host a member of the class of 2015 hackNY Fellows!

Attention awesome NYC startups: hackNY is pleased to announce that applications are now open for hosting a member of NYC’s next generation of talented developers and engineers: the class of 2015 hackNY Fellows!  Startup matching will occur on a rolling basis so be sure to apply early via http://apply.hackny.org/startups/apply .

A few things to keep in mind:

Startups applying to work with a hackNY Fellow are making a commitment to the following:

  • to provide a concrete problem for the Fellow to work on
  • to provide a specific person to mentor the fellow
  • to provide a place for the Fellow to work — the startup must at least have dedicated coworking space if not an office.

Startups are eligible to work with hackNY if they

  • are independent (i.e. not acquired)
  • have their development team headquartered in NYC

The hackNY Fellows program, now entering its fifth year, is an intense program designed to introduce students to NYC’s startup community by pairing the best technical minds with the best NYC startups. The hackNY Fellows program includes housing as well as a pedagogical lecture series covering all aspects of founding or joining a startup. Previous fellows have come from all over the US and Canada, majoring in a variety of subjects, with skills including front-end, back-end, data science, and design. Don’t take our word for it though: please see this video created by the class of 2011 hackNY Fellows:  http://bit.ly/hackNY2011vid, or this description of ‘Why You Should Do hackNY’ by a member of the class of 2012 hackNY Fellows:  http://hackny.org/a/2012/08/students-heres-why-you-should-do-hackny/.

Please to do contact us at [email protected] with your questions.  Also, hackNY appreciates any feedback on the timing of the process hosting a hackNY Fellow or anyway other ways we can better partner with you.  Please let us know by email (at [email protected]) if you have any suggestions for future processes.

Best,

Team hackNY

2014 Fellow Interview: Walter

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.

Walter

Walter Menendez goes to MIT and worked this summer as the hackNY fellow at MongoDB in Times Square

Where’d you grow up?

I was born in LA, but grew up in Maryland. My parents broke up when I was young and my mom remarried. Growing up, my mom was a housekeeper. She commuted back and forth to Washington DC working two jobs. I was the only one who learned English proficiently. When I went to school, I spoke English; Then, to communicate with my parents, I had to speak Spanish.

I remember when we got our first computer at the home when I was around 8 years old. My parents didn’t know anything about the internet. for school, all our assignments were posted on the internet. I think my curiosity pushed me a lot to just explore what the computer did. I would tinker around with different things. My parents realized they couldn’t help me as much as they wanted; When I would do homework, they would watch me do it even though they knew they couldn’t help me.

In high school, I went to a very academically challenging magnet school. When it came time to apply to college, I was a first generation college student. My parents knew they couldn’t help me but they promised to sign any forms and pay for tests. All of the colleges I got into promised to give me most of the cost off. They all saw my financial situation and were willing to help me. I chose MIT because I wanted to be at a place where I could just explore and absorb information. MIT was really the place for me to meet people and be free to explore things.

What’s your biggest struggle right now?

I want to take advantage of the time I have during my last year at MIT. The biggest thing that affected me growing up was my mom’s attitude towards me. She wanted me to have a better life, and she did everything she could for that. I feel an obligation to help her and give back in the work I do. Knowing everything will work out in the end is very important. Because no matter which way life turns, everything will be okay in the end.