Hey Future Interns!
An Overview of the ACM Hack Internship Program as Told by Our Most Recent Interns
September 1, 2023
By Nathan Zhang and James Wu
It’s Fall quarter! That means ACM Hack is preparing to recruit our new batch of interns! To help shed some light on the experience, we (James and Nathan, the Hack Co-Presidents for 2023 - 2024) decided to ask our most recent intern class some questions about their experience the past year for a small blog post! :)
Hack meetings typically start with various icebreaker questions—some notable examples have included: “Who would win, a guy who can control every squirrel at UCLA or 30 bird scooterers?” as well as “Who here do you think you could take in a fight?” Naturally, we started our calls by asking our previous interns: “Who is your favorite CPrez, James or Nathan?” While some were reluctant to give an answer as it was either James or Nathan asking them the question, most of them gave one. The winner: whoever was asking them the question, with the exception of Jenna and Abigail, who both elected to go with “Christina,” our previous CPrez. Very safe answers…
Now that the most important question is out of the way, we can get into the less-important questions (just kidding, we know this next bit is why you are reading this).
First question: Why did you become an intern for Hack? A fairly straightforward question that should elicit fairly straightforward answers, right? Wrong. Our interns joined for all that Hack had to offer:
Abigail: “I became an intern for Hack because I liked the relaxed environment [of Hack events], with memes in the workshops and general playfulness.” Abigail mentioned that she was looking for a community she could not only grow professionally with, but also treat as close friends. “I thought [Hack officers] seemed like people I wanted to be friends with that I could joke around with, [and] I was looking for some more experience because I had literally no idea how CS stuff worked.” She’ll be directing her second event, Hackschool, this upcoming fall, and Hack has (in her words) “...been the perfect mix of professional and fun,” with a mission to “teach people how to make cool stuff in a fun way.”
Andy: Similar to Abigail, Andy also came for the balance of community and knowledge. As an out-of-state student, he noted that the “community aspect [and] meeting new people” really drew him to our events and eventually encouraged him to apply for an intern position. “Hack seemed like a place filled with a bunch of nice people and seemed the most balanced with those who knew a bunch of stuff and those who were more chill.”
Brooke: “I wanted to get the more practical experience of actually building something [and] meet people who were also in computer science.” When asked about what she had learned so far, she reflected, “The stuff you learn in Hack is generalizable skills. I thought we were just making websites, but the later workshops on AWS and cloud computing proved to be useful.” She also mentioned that being in Hack felt like “being [in] a family!”
Satyen: “I wanted to get more involved in the UCLA community. I hadn’t really participated in a lot of leadership experiences while in college, but I did a lot in high school.” Satyen was quick to also note that he enjoyed “the camaraderie of the officer team and the vibes” of Hack.
Shiyu: “I was looking to join a CS club to get more insight and hands-on experience in the field, and I’d definitely say I got both during my intern quarter.” Shiyu has taken the past year to get very hands-on and explorative, using Hack as a tool to “dive into website development, learn all about Git, PRs, directing events, and more.”
Our interns clearly knew what they were doing when they were applying. Now as for what our interns have thought of their entire experience with Hack so far:
Abigail: “I really liked my intern experience. I made actual friends, [and] I never thought I’d be able to meet such an awesome group of people across different grades with different interests, who were so knowledgeable and fun and willing to share stuff with me.” As a director, Abigail thought that “because you have to learn the material well enough to teach it on your own, I felt it was a great motivation to do learning outside of the classroom.” Additionally, while reflecting, she said that “Hack became my favorite club out of the entire year — I joined the REDACTED CLUB 1, the REDACTED CLUB 2, and even the board of REDACTED CLUB 3, and I was way less involved in those than I was for Hack. I valued what I was doing for this club’s mission way more than the others.”
Brooke: “It was a valuable experience. I learned mainly through the process of preparing 2 workshops…you learn a lot because you are also thinking about how to introduce [the content] to someone who hasn’t heard of it before.”
Jenna: “I learned a lot and was able to get closer with the people in Hack. Hack met all my expectations.” Jenna noted that she learned full-stack development with StackSchool, Vim, Markdown, and LaTeX with MiniHack, and Git with Hack on the Hill. “Whatever event you choose to do, you’ll learn a lot about the topic.”
Jonathan: “I found my community. I definitely found the type of people I wanted to surround myself with…people with the same mindset of how I can use my experiences to help and uplift others. Everybody is just super smart and inviting.”
Shiyu: “My intern experience was great in every possible way. I’m talking about acquiring skills that later turn out hella useful for my internship (web dev and full stack dev lmao), getting to see how events are planned and carried out, practicing public speaking 😭, and getting to know some of the coolest people at UCLA!”
All of our interns excelled during their first quarter and have only continued to surpass all expectations as they transitioned into officers. Now, an important part of any club is the culture, and it’s what we believe makes Hack especially unique! Here’s what our interns had to say about that:
Abigail: “It’s very memey and there’s a lot of jokes. Everyone is professional and focused on the mission, but it’s also unserious with silly icebreakers, inside jokes, and donut chats. Everyone is super knowledgeable and crazy talented, but still willing to take time out of their day to hang out with you and give you advice. Besides just being friendly, they’ll also help you with your career which is an awesome addition.”
Andy: “The people are very cool! I’m a little more introverted, but I met a lot of nice people.”
Brooke: “It’s a group of really smart people…Hack is the most organized organization that I’ve been a part of. Everything is so sleek…everything has templates.”
Jenna: “Lots of icebreakers. Everyone’s really friendly with each other. Everyone is really chill, pretty funny, and overall just nice people.”
Jonathan: “Hack culture is a lot. We just all have so much personality…it’s a lot of everywhere but it’s a good everywhere…it’s a good combination that works out!”
Satyen: “Very down to earth.”
Shiyu: “Imma just list a ton of adjectives: super chill, friendly, supportive, and passionate!”
Hack has W people. Honestly, as Co-Presidents this next year, we are glad that we’ve been able to continue the amazing vibes of Hack, and we’d love to see how you can contribute towards them for the years to come! Speaking of which, this is what our interns said were their favorite memory since joining Hack:
Abigail: “I have two. The first Hack social was super fun. I started meeting all the people in Hack and everyone was super funny, nice, and entertaining. I remember seeing Einar draw a Manny from Diary of a Wimpy kid out of ramen soup at Sawtelle, and I was dying laughing from talking to other members. [...] My other favorite memory from my first year at Hack is when we spent $300 on Portos [for an event] and EVERYONE took a box of Portos home. I had SO MUCH Portos from Minihack.”
Andy: “Going to Hack on the Hill was a lot of fun…going out and eating the 50 pizzas was definitely the highlight.”
Jenna: “My favorite memory was the social during spring quarter. It wasn’t about doing work, and it was good to socialize with everyone outside of what we do as a club! I remember swimming and getting food from Sawtelle and playing a bunch of games, it was pretty fun.”
Jonathan: “My favorite was when we went to Sawtelle together. It was the butterfly season when you start to get to know everyone. It was my favorite because I was able to learn about people and get to know each individual. After that first impression, I thought that we had a good mix and everybody seemed to work well with each other.”
From the socials to the workshops to the hackathons, Hack definitely provides a unique space at UCLA. Whether you are a new freshman or have been in the college environment for years, we encourage you to check us out! If we really spark your interest, we encourage you to apply to our internship program! Who knows, maybe one day, your name will be on this website. With that, we’ll leave you with some of the final words that our interns had to say:
Abigail: “Just apply and do it! You will not regret it. It’s very tight-knit and fun and you will feel that you’re doing something meaningful. You’re not only helping others learn but you’re helping yourself learn as well. [Hack] has a reputation for being close-knit and fun, and people from other ACM committees have asked me before how we do it. It’s really just the people, culture, and work that we get to do that makes it a great experience.”
Andy: “If you find yourself in Hack, then you’ve found yourself in a pretty solid place.”
Brooke: “Have a good time, don’t get too stressed about things.”
Jenna: “Be chill, enjoy hosting the events and building things, and have fun!”
Jonathan: “Trust yourself and be yourself. Trust who you are, because in the end, we want who you are.”
Satyen: “Don’t take for granted the opportunities that you have at UCLA. At Hack, you’ll find that everyone is very friendly and you’ll learn a lot.”
Shiyu: “Join hack or I’ll hunt u down.”
As for ourselves, we have had similar experiences from when we were interns two years ago. Hack has taught us technical coding skills, organizational skills to direct and teach events, leadership skills, and given us a great community of friends. In fact, both of us (Nathan and James) are now roommates! So, there really is some truth to the theme of Hack helping you make some close homies. We aren’t gaslighting you, we swear.
We hope that this blog post gives you a bit of insight into what it’s like at ACM Hack. Feel free to reach out, too! We’d love to hear from you. If you think Hack is the right place, definitely apply! We look forward to getting to know you!
Hack internship applications open every Fall quarter! If you are interested in applying, stay connected through our social media and our year-round events!
Nathan and James