HackMIT, a hackathon by MIT, was an amazing experience! Although my team didn't place, I seriously enjoyed my first hackathon, bonding with my NCWIT team, and learning so much in just one weekend. The team was originally formed when Sabrina asked the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Community if anyone wanted to apply to HackMIT and join her team (the Fearless Four). AiC Community Members Pia, Emily, and I immediately teamed up with Sabrina. We were ecstatic when we were notified that we had been accepted. Going to HackMIT has been one of the best experiences I've had yet. I've never been able to work in an all-female team that was as interested in STEM as I, and it was so amazing being able to have that opportunity.
My two main motivations for going to HackMIT were getting to work in an all-girl team (go NCWIT!) for the first time and having an amazing learning experience while there. Being in the STEM field, at least in my experience, has been challenging and in some cases discouraging when I'm constantly only surrounded by guys. It was great being able to see that there are other wonderful women in STEM just as passionate as I am and getting the opportunity to work with them. In addition, I was able to attend workshops and discussions that had a positive influence on me. Everything that I learned there has helped me in my major and has allowed me to broaden my horizons.
The most inspiring moment at HackMIT was on the first night that I arrived. Arriving on campus, everyone was gathered at a huge white tent making burgers and hot dogs. Picnic tables were scattered and people were chatting about where they had come from and some about their crazy adventures of how they had hacked the puzzles for the first 50 slots. It was so amazing to meet people from literally all around the world and see first hand how diversity, HackMIT's goal, was making such a great impact.
The lesson that really stood out at HackMIT 2015 was that I should be proud of myself for being a female engineer and shouldn't let impostor syndrome take over. I learned this when I attended a discussion for females at the hackathon. I heard firsthand stories from other girls going through similar issues and how they overcame those issues. I shouldn't doubt all of my hard work. Instead I should look back at what I have accomplished with confidence and pride.
Personally, I believe that women are just as capable as men in anything they set their mind to. Being a girl shouldn't impact what I want to do or what my passion should be. I would love to see more women in STEM because they would be doing what they love and would be showing other girls that anything is possible.