ACM at UCR
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ACM at UCR

Gen ACM — Kanin Liang

Generation ACM — Gen ACM for short — is our take on the people who shape UCR’s ACM chapter each year. We highlight members who embody what it means to pave the way for future generations and let them share their stories as inspiration for anyone looking for guidance in the tech field or life in general.

Kanin Liang is a 2nd year majoring in Computer Science. Born and raised in Orange County, Southern California, Kanin brings her drive and knowledge regarding the tech industry as the Alumni Chair at ACM. She is also currently the Outreach Director for Cyber@UCR.

Why ACM?

I wanted to join ACM to be apart of a greater computing community on campus. I also heard about all the events that ACM puts together and thought it would be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge professionally and technically.

So, what do you do as the Alumni Chair for ACM?

As an Alumni Chair, I work towards building and strengthening the relations between our students and alumni (whether that be BCOE or ACM alumni). One primary example of this would be reaching out to alumni to put together panelist events.

That sounds amazing! What inspired you to run for this position though?

I wanted to become an officer so that I could give back to the club for what it has done for me and also contribute to making this club greater for future members.

Being a second-year, that means you ran for an officer position during your first-year. Were you intimidated at all?

Applying as a first-year I definitely was. I was going up against those who had been around for much longer and was also presenting myself to an audience that I had come across over Zoom. But what encouraged me to apply regardless was the encouragement I received from my ACM Mentor (shoutout to Danial) and the opportunities that awaited.

Shout out to Danial then!

You’ve been the Alumni Chair for quite some time now though; what would you say then is the hardest part about the job? Any challenges?

One challenge would be reaching out to alumni I have not met for the first time. I personally find it a challenge because it feels like I am “cold mailing”. However, I am grateful that our alumni are willing to extend their hand and graciously provide what they can!

Rather than a challenge, I think that a downside of my job though is that — since I am in charge of alumni relations, I get the privilege of speaking with many alumni. However, with the current situation and the digital age, I do not get to formally meet the alumni I contact.

As our officer term is almost ending, do you have any favorite memories of ACM?

My favorite memory of ACM would definitely be the leisure conversations we have during our board meetings. The random conversations that go on truly give me the opportunity to know our board members more.

It seems like ACM was quite the memory for you — so, why should others join ACM?

There are many reasons, however my top 2 are:

  • To expand your skillsets and knowledge — there are topics that I was exposed to through ACM that have been extremely useful to me.
  • Expanding your community! Through ACM, I’ve been able to meet peers who I would not come across through classes. This is ultimately the place I have come across some of the brightest individuals and good friends!

Why CS?

My first exposure to anything technical was cybersecurity. This was what brought me into the computer field and gave me the interest to work in the computing field.

Ultimately, I decided to become a CS major out of all the other engineering majors because it was the major that would give me a broad exposure to the computing field.

Specifically, what areas of CS are you currently interested in the most?

Of the various niches that come with CS, I have only had the opportunity to be exposed to a few. Of the ones I have tried, I am currently most interested in backend development!

What would you say then are your dreams and aspirations with your major? Are you going to go into cybersecurity — as I see you are also involved with Cyber@UCR?

Throughout the years, I have had the privilege of seeing what it is like working as a cyber professional, and although I have a passion for cybersecurity, it is something that I can’t imagine myself doing professionally. Currently, my goal is to enter the industry as a software engineer after college.

Side note — I noticed how you also got an internship after your first-year! How were you able to do so? Do you have any tips and tricks for first-years who might be lost as to how to start looking?

APPLY APPLY APPLY!!! Don’t be afraid of your profile not being good enough. There is no harm in getting a rejection.

As a freshman, don’t worry about scoring your first internship, rather look at it from the perspective of gaining application experience so you are more prepared in the upcoming years!

If you do score an internship offer along the way, CONGRATS! But, do keep in mind, first-year internships are hard because employers hire for skill and there is not much under your belt yet!

If you want more tips and details, I have published an article about first-year internships which you can find here. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions as well (klian038@ucr.edu).

Let’s talk about your involvement at Cyber@UCR…

Why did you join Cyber@UCR?

Cybersecurity was something I did starting from middle school.

Although I don’t want to pursue cybersecurity as an occupation, I also don’t want skills to go to waste as cyber is extremely important in today’s society. Thus, I decided to join Cyber@UCR and pursue cybersecurity as a hobby!

I know Cyber@UCR also does CCDC and CTF. What are these events like and do you have any favorite memories from any of them?

Personally, I am most involved with CCDC (Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition).

CCDC is a competition where teams work together to secure a business infrastructure from cyber attacks. So, yes, we do get attacked in the competition if they find ways to get in!

Although it might sound stressful to compete in a high stress environment, it is something that I enjoy because of how you’re able to learn so much in that time frame just from having no choice but to learn things quickly!

My favorite memory then would have to be from the last competition where we were competition in-person at Winston Chung Hall and the fire alarm went off towards the end of the competition. Safety comes first but the competition was still ongoing and high in priority so we evacuated and submitted our reports from outside.

The Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition’s Twitter account even shouted us out. Check out the tweet here.

Seems like a lot of fun haha! In your opinion then, why should others join Cyber@UCR?

Cyber@UCR is a great place to develop cybersecurity skills and also practice them hands on. We have a lot of opportunities to get hands on exposure. Best part is, these skillsets are skills that are used in the industry and will come in great help if you decide to be a security professional.

Let’s talk about your life a bit…

What do you like to do out of CS? Do you have any side hobbies?

In my free time, I enjoy playing puzzles and jigsaw games.

After over a year of online school, how is life back on campus right now?

It’s great not being stuck in a room glued to my desk all the time! I’m also able to have social interactions with peers again rather than staring at Zoom names which I appreciate greatly. In addition to that, I’m also forced to walk to classes which is like built-in daily exercise (a plus for couch potatoes).

I know you’re living in an on-campus apartment — how is that as well?

I’m loving the apartment life! I think after being trapped in my room at home for a year, a switch of environments has definitely been a great pleasure. It’s also introduces a new aspect of life where I get to live with my roommates( essentially built-in friends)!

Being that we’re now 2 quarters in, do you have any favorite spots or hidden gems you found on or off-campus?

Well, I’d want to keep it a secret right? Since it’s a great spot right — just kidding!

Going to be honest, I have not really taken the time to explore UCR off-campus and I haven’t really found anything too cool on campus yet.

But, if anyone reading this lives at North District (I’m probably late to this discovery), every floor in Building A has really huge study rooms that I think are super cool because there’s usually not too many people there so you get the whole room to yourself compared to a small study room!

Going off of the study rooms, what would you say then is your favorite place to work or study on-campus?

I haven’t really explored campus much to sit down and study in different places. I’ve gone to Orbach during finals week before and I think that was good because everyone was there studying for finals — so you’re inclined to study (it was also very quiet). One downside though was that it was very full.

I would suggest Winston Chung Hall as an alternative. There’s not so many people there especially since Bytes is closed and it’s very quiet with very few people!

Let’s do some rapid fire questions now…

What’s your favorite color?

Blue or any pastel color!

Do you have a secret talent?

Not a secret talent, but I prefer drinking lukewarm / room temperature water over iced which people have found weird.

What’s your favorite song, movie, or TV show? Why?

There’s this show called Itaewon Class that I really enjoyed. I loved the main character in the show and admired his willpower. The show was also a great reminder to live with determination.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Take time away from school to spend time on yourself and with friends! School is only temporary — the experiences/ memories you make along the way last much longer.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

I’m not sure — there’s a lot of places I’d like to live in but I think generally in any city. I think experiencing the busy city life for a few years would be fun!

What time of day are you most productive?

Morning or afternoons are my best hours!

What is one food that you would never give up?

Bread! I like my carbs a lot. :)

How do you deal with stress?

I think it varies on what type of stress I’m dealing with — but normally I just put on music and run.

What’s your favorite quote?

“For every negative, think of 3 positives” — I heard this from a podcast.

If you were not doing CS, what would you be doing instead?

If not CS, I would probably be a business major.

Do you have any big pet peeves?

Dry hands. Especially after moving to Riverside, the air here is extremely dry so I have to slather a good amount of lotion to not feel my skin cracking like an alligator.

Do you have any final thoughts for readers?

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“Live your life in a way you want to be remembered” — Claivoyan

But, feel free to reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn here!

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