Meet Alberta: From Learning HTML on NeoPets to Interning at Twitter

“CodeNow got me interested in computer science and kept me interested in it.”

Meet Alberta, a Computer Science major at Brown University who recently spent a summer interning at Twitter’s San Francisco office.

Do you remember the first time that you ever worked with code?

I did HTML on NeoPets. After that, I probably didn’t do anything related to coding until CodeNow. I also took a Computer science class in high school but it wasn’t an AP CS class. My teacher didn’t actually know how to code so everyone in the class kind of learned together.

Why did you attend the CodeNow workshop?

I knew I wanted to do something related to computer science, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I was good at math and science in high school but I wasn’t super into the act of doing a derivative or something. I also realized that I wanted to do something a bit more hands-on and create things.

“Eventually, I realized that computer science is not just about making video games.”

How has your attitude towards technology changed throughout the years?

Attending the CodeNow workshop broadened my idea of what I can do with coding because I had this strong perception of coding as game design. People in high school were really interested in the gaming aspect so I had this idea that computer science meant making video games. Eventually. I realized that computer science is not just about making video games.

Tell us about your internship at Twitter.

When I started I didn’t really know what kind of technology I’d be working with, not to mention, the fact that I only had a year of college computer science experience at the time. I could code an academic project but did I know enough to be in industry? There was a huge learning curve but once you get used to working in the industry, you pick up things like how to code efficiently and how to collaborate with a technical team. Overall, it was a great experience and I learned so much in just a few months.

What was your proudest accomplishment at Twitter?

Presenting my final project at Twitter was my proudest accomplishment, even though I finished right in the nick of time. Not everyone who interns at Twitter gets to present their project, but because I got to work on my project from start to finish, I was able to present it to a room full of Twitter engineers. The fact that they were able to actually understand what my project does was really rewarding.

“As a woman in CS, I understand the importance of creating space for individuals who may not feel welcome in tech on the basis of identities such as race, ethnicity, or gender.”

What motivates you?

Partially, a lack of role models in CS — especially for women. I’m in a class called Introduction to Computer Systems, and it’s one of the most male-dominated classes in CS. The fact that there still aren’t a lot of women in CS who can be my mentors is what inspires me to succeed so that one day I can be someone’s role model. As a woman in CS, I understand the importance of creating space for individuals who may not feel welcome in tech on the basis of identities such as race, ethnicity, or gender.

Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in learning to code?

Go for it! Try it and don’t give into the temptation that everyone around you is smarter than you. Computer science and engineering are so different from other fields because there is a constant feeling that other people are much smarter than you, doing crazy things on their computers.

Following her internship at Twitter, Alberta returned to campus and began her role as a coordinator for Women in Computer Science (WiCS) at Brown. As a coordinator, Alberta plans discussions and events for students by inviting female engineers to discuss their experiences in the industry. Follow Alberta on GitHub!


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