Experience Part IV: Junior Year

I came back to college Summer 2015. I was so happy to be back! I still worked as an IT Intern over breaks.

My junior year began Fall 2015.  I became the Vice President of Stout's IEEE branch. Summer 2016, I was an HPC Intern at SGI.

This post is part four in a five part series.

Vice President of IEEE Branch

Location: UW Stout
Dates: Fall 2015 to Fall 2016

When I became VP of our IEEE branch, we were disorganized and chaotic. The previous executive board had graduated. The other two executive board members and I knew nothing about running a student org. To boost involvement, we decided to have weekly workshops and meetings. IEEE became a 20+ hour commitment on top of our studies.

Over time, we became more organized and structured. Meetings and workshops were planned months in advance instead of on a weekly basis. We created applications and students joined IEEE as workshop coordinators. Despite the struggle, we grew more polished, professional, and efficient. This was one of the most valuable professional experiences I've ever had.

What I loved:

  • Creating organization out of chaos
  • A huge variety of challenges
  • Public speaking and giving presentations
  • Learning new things

Skills I Gained:

  • Leadership: as an executive board member, I guided the team toward accomplishing our vision for IEEE
  • Visualization: it was important to see what IEEE could be, not just what it was
  • Prioritizing: there was everything to do, but I learned to decide what NEEDED to be done
  • Teamwork: we didn't always agree, but I learned to respect others through disagreements
  • Organization: keeping organized is important for the future executives
  • Taking Initiative: something always needed to be done!
  • Improvising: workshops and meetings often didn't go as planned

HPC Intern

Location: SGI, Eagan, Minnesota
Dates: May 2016 to August 2016

This experience taught me how much I have to learn. I suffered from "underclassman arrogance" and believed I knew way more than I actually did.

This was my first time working with a cluster, SLURM, git, non-Debian Linux, a large code base, and a large project in general. I still had not been diagnosed with ADHD and I struggled with all the new technical challenges I faced at once. I began to fear that engineering wasn't for me.

I knew I loved leadership and looked into becoming an officer in the USMC. Due to medical reasons, I was rejected. However, I learned that I had been diagnosed with ADHD. This changed my life. My constant struggles made sense and I finally felt like I could succeed as an engineer.

Unfortunately, I learned about ADHD at the end of my internship. Though I completed my project and did well, I was disappointed because I felt that I could have done even better.

What I loved:

  • Linux
  • Working with a cluster
  • My coworkers, boss, and mentor
  • Flexible work hours
  • Building my technical skills

Skills I Gained:

  • Linux Administration: learning how to install and configure software
  • git: I had never used git before
  • HPC: learning how clusters work and how to manage them
  • SLURM: used for job scheduling on clusters
  • Time Management: setting priorities for each day and week


To be perfectly honest, this year was a chaotic mess. Despite this, I learned a lot. I'm so thankful that I was able to be diagnosed with ADHD, because every struggle finally made sense.

The most important thing I learned was how much I have to learn. Realizing there's so much I don't know (and how to find it out) made my senior year a lot more productive.

Read Part V

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