Teaching Coding in Under Served Communities

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Tony An, SEAS ’24

As I finish the first summer of my undergraduate experience at Penn, I find myself looking back on my summer as much as I am looking forward to the future. And from this perch, I am reminded of how my experience was made possible through the generous Career Services grant.

Last semester, as I initially worked towards finalizing my summer plans, I could not narrow down my various interests. I wanted to take summer classes, intern as a software engineer, work as a teaching assistant, and continue pursuing my personal projects. On the other hand, the pressure of incurring the financial costs of my summer became a limiting factor on my summer plans. So, which of these potential commitments would I have to cut? I could not decide.

During that process, the Career Services grant allowed me to invest in the opportunities and experiences that I truly yearned for.

Thus, over this summer, I ended up taking a Penn-unaffiliated summer course, working an internship at an international tech startup, working as a teaching assistant, and pursuing a personal data science project, endeavors which would not have been possible without this grant.

As a Software Engineering Intern at tech startup Aubot, I had the opportunity to help develop and test a novel, autonomous Computer Science curriculum aimed towards teaching students from underserved communities. After developing coding activities and finding effective ways for students to learn autonomously, we tested our release on 800+ students in underserved schools in Australia. As I saw my work come into fruition as students learned about Computer Science for the first time, I felt true fulfillment during my internship.

As a teaching assistant, I taught high school students and reinforced concepts on data science and data visualizations in Python. Albeit in a virtual setting, the opportunity to meet students from different backgrounds all with a shared interest for Penn allowed me to take a step back, relax, and rediscover the beauty in instruction.

And finally, while studying for my summer course and working on my personal project, I got to work with students from other universities and talk to instructors working at different types of companies and universities, which helped me narrow down my different career interests and gain conviction in my technical skills.

The commonality in all these experiences was the presence of other students. From teaching to learning to collaborating with other students, I gained a lot of clarity on my affinity for creative collaboration and instruction over this summer. Although I still don’t have full clarity on what specific field or company I want to work for, I have become very convinced that I want to learn and teach others as a part of my job. Every experience, internship, and class from this summer has solidified this belief.

Diving into my sophomore year at Penn, I still want to gain further clarity on the specific field I want to invest into. But in the meantime, I am simply grateful in reflection for this past summer. Thank you for making this summer possible!

By Career Services
Career Services