EqOpTech Tech Talk #4 & Computer In A Box Workshop

By Terence Lee

On July 29, 2017, EqOpTech hosts a fourth tech talk in a series of Speaker/Workshop for students interested in the tech fields. The tech talk features Magdalene Lim, a backend software engineer from LinkedIn.  She is quite new to the industry, having graduated from college in 2015. She hopes to inspire others to try coding and truly believes that everyone has the capacity to do it.

Personal journey to becoming a software engineer

Our speaker, Magdalene, a recent Cal graduate with a CS degree and having worked at both Amazon and LinkedIn, was able to relate to the younger audience about her journey and challenges in her quest to pursue a high-tech career as a female engineer. In that regards, she delivered some very valuable information to our audience.

Magdalene described the challenges in getting admitted to a CS program at one of the nation’s top university and thus giving hope to those in the audience with similar aspirations. Given the highly competitive CS program at Cal, she shared how important it was for her to be able to seek the help of professors and upper classmen to help as she struggled and competed among other classmates who were much more tech savvy than her.

Through hard work, determination and the ability to seek peer support, she was able to overcome her initial doubts and succeed in pursuing her career goal.  She also graciously shared with the audience her transcript that despite not having a perfect GPA, she was able to obtain an internship at a highly desirable company where competition is fierce for the few available positions.

Internship Tips For College Students

Getting the first internship was not an easy task as she showed that it took sending out hundreds of resumes just to get a few reply but it was through hard work and persistence that she was able to land her internship position at Amazon.

She gave valuable insights as to how to prepare for a highly technical interview and provide reference to a book that helped her tremendous. These are especially valuable for those seeking future internships as these tips are not usually taught at college.

Magdalene talked about how the internship gave her an opportunity to experience Machine Learning and how it did not appeal to her interest as she had initially anticipated and how she had redirected her career choice to her current position at LinkedIn. This is a very valuable lesson for the audience as it emphasize the importance of not being afraid to experiment and then change course, if necessary, in one’s pursuit of aligning one’s career choices with one’s passion.

Work Life Balance

Magdalene also pointed out some of the rewards and perks for working in the high-tech industries such as the free snacks and also the freedom to have the ability in pursuing other interest and hobbies while keeping a highly demanding career. The example that Magdalene gave of her friend pursuing his dance passion was excellent in showing that there is life beyond work, sharing the concept of “we work to live, and not live to work”. 

Computer In A Box Workshop

Following the Tech Talk, EqOpTech hosted a Computer In A Box workshop to revive and reuse older laptops as a learning tool to enable needy students with an "equal opportunity" access to the cloud (eg. Google Drive) and to minimize unwanted computers going to e-waste. The Los Altos School District has generously donated its first and second generation old White MacBooks to EqOptech. 

The EqOpTech tech team leads both the Los Altos High School, Egan Junior High School EqOpTech school club members and MVLA Scholars to not only refurbish each laptops to its full functionality but also dives into the latest technology to give the old laptops a new life via a Linux/Mac Dual Boot.

The Best of Both Worlds: Dual Boot with a Dual Mission

By installing a second Linux operating system into an old MacBooks or Windows Laptop, students are now able to access the latest Google Applications and other cloud applications. The Linux dual boot not only allow access to the latest tech applications but also boosts system performance of older laptops so that they are usable. The service project not only inspires students to give back to the community, it also empowers and enriches participants' computer engineering skills while helping other students in need. 

"Quiet Hero" Award - Jefferson Award

EqOpTech Founder, Terence Lee has been recognized as a "Quiet Hero" for his nonprofit work by the Jefferson Award Foundation. The Jefferson Award is a Nobel Prize for public and community service by ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.

During the workshop, CBS/KPIX reporter crew Sharon Chin and Jennifer Mistrot conduct an interview and video shoot of our Founder, Santa Rita Principal, a Santa Rita 5th grader who is a refurbished laptop recipient and a workshop participant. Visit here for the Jefferson Award story.

Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.