by: Mehek Gosalia, TechChange Tech Micro-intern

A one month internship is not a common thing to do, I’m told. Just one of the many weird and wonderful quirks of MIT: every year, we take January to explore education outside of class, whether through study abroad, research, specialized courses or micro internships. I got the chance to work at TechChange just for the month, as a software engineering intern. As I found, my unusually short internship was unusually rewarding, because TechChange, too, is weird and wonderful.

What makes it weird? Within a technical team of just 4, plus me and my fellow intern, we spanned 4 time zones at any given time. Our daily meetings were midday for some, wake-up calls for me, and burning the midnight oil for others. And instead of coding side by side, we seemed to switch off, PRs and commits coming in at every hour from every corner of the world. Because of this, I spend much of my internship getting to explore the codebase on my own, peeling back layers of files and discovering how much the platform truly had to offer. I also got to work in multiple areas of the codebase, working full stack to implement a new bookmark feature independently. This was my first ever 9 to 5, and yet with the freedom and flexibility I had, I rarely woke up at 9 or put away my laptop at 5. The lack of one set routine could have been demotivating- for us, it was energizing. It was weird, but it worked.

New bookmark feature implemented by Mehek

What makes it wonderful? Somehow, with just a 30 minute daily meeting with my team, continents and oceans between us, the technical team quickly became a family. Honestly, the flexibility and radical differences in our schedules actually created a unique dynamic. Instead of a rigid work structure followed by off time, we got to see each other living our lives. We shared our days, without distinction between work life and our lives- kids at home played off camera, I told them about my classes next month and they told me about the trip they were on to see their family. We pair programmed over Zoom between one lunch break and another, and there was always time for helping each other, even across time zones. When you can bring your life into your workplace, without rigid hours, it breathes life into the workplace. Truly wonderful.

I had four weeks at TechChange. Four weird, wonderful weeks made possible by my weird, wonderful school. I learned many things, but mostly, I learned about people. I learned about the people who work at TechChange, and who they were, and what a pleasure they were to work with. To me, being able to know them, after such a short time, is a career triumph beyond any technical skills gained. For that, thank you TechChange!

Brittany is a Senior Account Manager with TechChange, where she supports the design and implementation of engaging virtual workshops. Prior to coming to TechChange, Brittany worked with students and teachers throughout the DMV area, managing transformative learning experiences that centered students in dynamic professional and personal development. When not working, Brittany enjoys exploring––just about anything and everything, either in a book or in the world.

Q: So, tell us more about yourself. How did you end up working in Education?

I had always been a pretty quiet kid. But in my final two summers of high school, I signed up to be a docent at our local zoo; I ended up spending hours standing outside the animal exhibits talking to visitors, sharing information, asking questions, and teaching about conservation efforts. I fell in love with the dynamism that the position offered, where everyday I had the opportunity to share my passions and excitement with the zoo’s visitors. I’d always loved learning; as a docent, I realized how naturally that love of learning transferred to a love of teaching. Since those summers, my long-term trajectory has always been directed towards a career in education, and I eventually plan to teach high school English. 

Q: How did you first hear about TechChange?

I was seeking new professional opportunities when I came across the job posting on LinkedIn. I was thrilled when, upon looking into the company, I found the TechChange Education Model; its emphasis on lifelong learning and the need to intentionally inject joy into all educational experiences are core beliefs I also hold. My excitement only increased when, upon starting the application, I found that TechChange asked for a non-traditional cover letter; it’s a small thing, but I value companies that provide opportunities for creativity and try to remove the formal structures—such as the format of a traditional cover letter—that otherwise inhibit one’s ability to more deeply know people.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts of working at TechChange so far?

There are many things I love about working at TechChange, but first and foremost are the people. My colleagues at TechChange consistently wow me; not only highly creative and quick to solve problems, they are also passionate about what they do and compassionate in every interaction—whether that interaction is with another colleague, a client, or one of our many course and workshop participants. But TechChange does something kind of amazing in that it not only attracts and finds amazing staff; it also attracts and finds amazing partners. I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work with so many inspiring people, doing such a vast array of inspiring work.

Q: What excites you about this role?

I’m always excited by the chance to learn new things, and in this role I’m always learning. Because each project is so different—with unique topics, new learners, and specific needs—the opportunities to innovate, explore, and learn are constant. 

Q: Anything you look forward to working on or learning at TechChange in the next year?

It’s been incredible to watch—and be part of—the company’s growth over this past year; from new team members and partners to new processes and ideas, I have loved both witnessing this transformation, and I’ve loved being a part of it and contributing to it. It’s clear that TechChange is poised to continue growing in the new year, further refining our services to ensure we can bring even greater value to those with whom we work. I’m looking forward to being part of this continued growth—as well as, of course, continuing to grow myself.  

Q: Lastly, what’s something that not a lot of people know about you?

Though an introvert, I love meeting new people and having spontaneous conversations with strangers! While hiking and traveling in France, I loved hitchhiking and couchsurfing because it provided me with the opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life.