19 - Continuously improving

It has been a couple months since I really started working on my portfolio website. Almost every time I work on it, I find minor things I need to fix- broken links, broken images, etc. Now, instead of hosting with Github pages, I have been using Netlify. I really like it because I have been able to see the building/deploying pipeline better and can also host other sites on it fairly easily. For example, I have been deploying some of my projects from class as subdomains of my website. Makes it easier for users (if they come across my project sites) to realize they can view my portfolio website.

The biggest issue I have been facing is what to put on the front page of my website. Right now, I have a nice picture of me, but I want something more eye catching... I don't want to put an "About me" section when I already have a separate page for that. Alas, it will be something I continue pondering about.

The next thing I want to work on is making a website for my spotify game... There are a lot of infrastructure decisions to make, however. I want to learn a new framework (React) but it has been slowing down my progress because there are new things to learn. Wish me luck!

18 - Finally building my portfolio website!

If you're reading this, I finally actually built my portfolio website! This has been something I have wanted to do for a while - to code my portfolio website from scratch. While I have worked on web development before - with different frameworks and such - I decided to take a minimalistic approach to building this site. I don't really need anything dynamic on this site, so I can simply host this on Github pages. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the color scheme, my fonts, etc. Since my portfolio website is a representation of me, I wanted to show both my professionalism but also my quirky personality in the design choices I make.

Right now, I still have my old Weebly site up. After I finish copying everything and reroute my domain name to this site, I will be shutting it down. It served its purpose the last 4 years as being the place I would post my projects to, where I would update my professional life and display my accomplishments. Now I can do that and show off my own code! There are still quite a lot of formatting and website things I want to fix, but almost all the content I want is on here.

PS - I have 5 more weeks until I walk across the stage to get my diploma. Time flies!

17 - Best Study Spaces On Campus

Given that more than half of the libraries are closed for the time being, this limits where students can get out of their dorm/apartment and have good enough wifi to attend classes. A lot of my favorite places to study were closed, so here is a list of my new favorite spots on campus to study!

  1. Langsam Library

    This isn't really a new spot, but they are the only library near my apartment that is still open. Although they have closed off like 75% of their floor space, I found it super easy to find a spot to study. And even with the 6ft restrictions, I could sit close to my friends and study with them.

  2. Lindner College of Business

    Another common place to study but I love being next to the Starbucks and enjoying the tantalizing smell of coffee. Again, they've closed off a lot of study spaces but they have outdoor seating too! It was also relatively easy to find a spot to sit.

  3. ACM Office

    Unfortunately, access is limited to this space since it is only for exec members, but it has good school study vibes that I desperately need. Since access is limited and it's in the engineering building, no one comes in and I can study with friends in there. Normally, this is where we hold our office hours but that has moved online. (Also we have snacks in there from our previous events so that's awesome too!)

  4. TUC

    This is another common study space but there were so many open tables! And I visited around lunch time so I was very surprised! The upstairs area also had overflow space for studying.

  5. Although it sounds like a lot of places are open, there are some of my normal study spaces that aren't! These include the engineering library, engineering women's lounge, and the 801 Rhodes. I really liked the engineering women's lounge since it also had a mini-fridge but that's not too big of a problem.

    I am also super appreciative of UC to try and keep these places open. Being stuck at home watching lectures and studying is not how I want my semester to go.

16 - Back To School

A short life update, since it has been a couple of months since I have updated this blog.

  • I am back on campus (although most of my classes are online)
  • I am a Peer TA for the Foundations in Engineering Thinking (ENED1100) class
  • Living with 2 awesome roommates/best friends
  • Finished up my second rotation with Lubrizol, where I gained a good foundation in web development
  • Ready to have an awesome and fulfilling semester!

15 - First Week of Co-op

This past week, I got back to work as a manufacturing automation co-op at the Lubrizol Corporation. It was a blur of trying to get access to different development servers, being introduced to new technologies, and meeting new people. My experience so far with development has only been what I've learned in school and the languages I know (C#, C++, Python and some Java). I'll be learning new languages and technologies, including bootstrap, knockout, html, javascript, etc. It'll be interesting to see how I leverage these languages in my co-op and after co-op.

I wrote last week about how I joined a study group with friends from classes to do leetcode problems. The expectation in the study group was that it would be intense studying with 6-7 problems per week. Going through those problems, however, I felt like it would be better if I studied on my own and really understood the problems by going at a slower pace. I still would like to work on leetcode this summer, so by writing it here I will hold myself accountable to 1-2 questions a week.

My web design project for ACM-W which I am also using as an honors experience was approved last week. I'm excited to start working towards it soon.

I was also picked to be the logistics team lead for the 2021 RevolutionUC hackathon. Although I was an organizer for the previous hackathon, this is a huge jump in responsibility. I met with the previous team lead to get some insight and as long as I stay on top of things, it will go great! This will really test my time management skills, since planning starts in fall, when I go back to school and have other responsibilities for the student orgs that I am in.

I'm very happy about this 3 day weekend and getting some rest tomorrow :)

14 - Starting Leetcode

Leetcode is something that is familiar to most CS majors who are aiming to work at big companies. That includes me. Leetcode, for those of you who haven't heard of it, is a site with coding problems that often use data structures and algorithms knowledge with different difficulty levels. These problems are used as interview questions for top tech companies.

A group of my friends came together to create a study group over this summer to practice these problems and become better prepared for technical interviews. I'm excited to start this journey because sometimes I feel like I am lacking in my coding knowledge and this will be a great way to practice! This week we just finished our first week of studying and it made me realize that this is something I will need to put some effort into. Typically, applicants are given about 45 minutes to solve a problem and I simulated that by giving myself a timer. This first week, I was only able to solve 1 completely that had an acceptable Big O notation for time and space complexity. The other questions I was able to complete partially with some test cases, or not at all.

One consideration I have to make is the language I am solving the problem with. I have had the most recent experience with C++ now, making it the easiest language to code in, but I look at some problems and realize I should probably be using Python because that implementation is going to be 20 times easier. It made me realize that I need to brush up on the languages I haven't used in a while. One app I used to use is SoloLearn, and I really should go back to that!

I'll also be starting a web development project where I try to redesign the website for the UC chapter of ACM-W. I am planning this to be my summer project since the website is in need of refreshing and it'll be a good way to gain some new skills!

Also, my coop rotation starts tomorrow, where I will get to work on machine automation development, so I am very excited for this semester of learning!

13 - Coop Wrap-up

It has been a while since my last post, but I thought it would be beneficial if I had a post about how my first coop rotation went. I will also include tips to other interns throughout this post.

My coop rotation was at The Lubrizol Corporation, a multi-national chemical company in Greater Cleveland owned by Berkshire Hathaway. I worked in IS in the Security Operations Center. In the SOC, I had responsibilities overseeing the cybersecurity of our company. This was one of the teams I requested in my interview because the idea of cybersecurity was interesting to me and it really was interesting to see how a company manages their security system. The team warmed up to me and valued my opinions when I gave them. It was nice to see that despite my level of experience and my title as a coop, the work and ideas I contributed had a real impact (Tips to interns: If you don't feel valued or are given side projects that don't have much meaning, find another company for your next internship). I was directly responding to security situations and helping with resolving the situation.

Another beneficial aspect of coop is networking. Your team, your mentor, and even the people you meet when you go get coffee in the break area are all people you interact with and could create the bonds to network with them. I also created relationships with the other interns and coops, since they are also students and are in a similar stage of life to me. (Tips to interns: Try to work at a company that has other interns.)

However, from my experience in the SOC, I realized that cybersecurity is not for me. And that was what I expected. Nevertheless, it was a good experience for me as I obtained a lot of general knowledge in this area. It also helps me rule it out as a potential career path. I am very excited about my next rotation and all the wonderful new things I will learn.

12 - 8th Week on Coop

This week marks my 8th week on coop; time flies when you're having fun.

Today I'm going to share a couple of tips as someone who is now halfway through a coop rotation and perhaps things to remember as we start settling into our roles

  1. Don't get too comfortable

    I'm starting to get to a point where I am a little too comfortable with the work I do. An important aspect of being a coop student is to challenge yourself in every way possible. If you feel comfortable with the work you are doing, that is a good thing; that means you are learning and have become proficient at your tasks. However, I think it is important to take another step and ask for more challenging work. That way, you can maximize your learning opportunity and make a good impression on the people you work with.

    There are also other ways to challenge yourself. You can try networking with people (something I am trying to do) or learn about other aspects of your company that you are unfamiliar with.

  2. Connect with the people around you

    Connecting with the people around you seems like something that should come naturally, since you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with the people you work. However, it's important to consciously connect with people in meaningful ways. For me, I am challenging myself to network with 3 people outside of my team. This goes back to point 1, since networking is something that makes me uncomfortable. In the long run, I know this will pay off. The connections could lead to a position or even a source for advice and support down the road.

    Some of the ways I already do this is by partaking in Trivia Night Tuesdays with some of the newer coworkers at my company. I get to know them as people outside of the work setting, which lets me connect and relate to them. I also have assimilated into the team I work with by finding things I can relate to and contributing to jokes that they often say. Not only does this help me connect with my team, it also makes work and meetings funner (I know funner isn't a word haha). I have also been fortunate to not only connect with the other coops but to actually get to a point where I can call them my friends. As people who are going through the same experiences I am as a college student, it has been so easy to get along with them and have fun. I'm so glad to be at a company with so many other coops.

  3. Remember, you can still learn outside of the office

    Every day, I am learning something new about cyber security. And that's great, but I also have all this free time after work that I could be using to brush up on skills that I'm not using. I guess this tip is just a reminder to myself and other coop students that you can always learn new things on your own too. I am writing this down so I can hold myself accountable until the next time I make an update. My personal goal: get through the Crash Course playlist on Computer Science.

  4. This was just a quick update that hopefully everyone can learn from (@ like the 5 people who actually see this). Needless to say, I am enjoying my time on coop and not having to take midterms. I am starting to miss being on campus though and I am so excited to sign up for spring semester classes tomorrow.

11 - First 6 Weeks on Coop

This fall semester, I have not been attending classes. At most universities, this would be alarming to hear. However, I am an engineering student at the University of Cincinnati, which means I will be completing 5 coops within my 5 years of studies.

Currently, I am a Security Operations Coop at The Lubrizol Corporation. My responsibilities include investigating email phishing tickets submitted by employees and helping with other activities carried out by the Security Operations Center.

Being part of this team has opened my eyes to the security and networking aspects of computer science. So far in my path of CS, I have only formally learned coding languages. One of my goals is to learn more about how information is transferred and I have been able to do that in my role. I learned at the SoNIC workshop that information is transferred in packets. In my role, I am able to see the information passed through firewalls and servers from externally to internally and vice versa. The lack of knowledge I have in the way that computers fundamentally work has inspired me to learn more about it.

Another work in progress are my communication skills. In my role, I run 2 weekly meetings and send email updates every day. I also communicate with employees directly to follow up on security incidents. Because of this, I would like to think that my communication skills are improving.

Although this is a short update, I am excited to see what the next 10-ish weeks brings me!

10 - SoNIC Workshop Wrap Up

Although it's been quite a while since my last post, I just wanted to wrap up the experiences I had at the SONiC workshop at Cornell. To reiterate, the goal of the workshop was to expose CS students of minorities to the idea of pursuing graduate degrees.

During days 3-5, we heard talks from more Cornell faculty and staff about their roles and experiences. One highlight speaker was Hadas Kress-Gazit, who oversaw the Autonomous Systems Lab, which focuses on robot innovation. We were able to take a look at the lab and the projects she and her students were working on. One project was a robot companion that would lead people to safety during a fire. Although the project was still in its stages of infancy, we were able to observe a demo of the robot.

We also got to hear from Hadas about her journey to her current position and her experience as a woman in a more male-saturated field. Hearing her story inspired me and reinforced my validity as a woman in CS.

On day 4, we had the chance to go on a boat tour of Cayuga Lake, one of the Finger Lakes near Cornell. Although it was windy and about to rain any second, we were able to mingle with the rest of the workshop participants and exchange stories. Snapchats and Instagrams were exchanged and even today, a couple of months later, I still talk to the people I met.

Day 5 was the last day of workshop activities, which included a final presentation of what we learned during the research portion of the workshop. The research portion included reading data from network packets in C. The most important takeaway for me personally was that there is still so much I don’t know about computers and technology. Networks and the hardware of computers are important in order to know fundamentally how a computer works and I lack knowledge of both of these topics. I never really thought about how the data is sent through the internet; this is a huge gap in my knowledge that I am determined to fill soon.

9 - SoNIC Workshop Day 2

Although we had a rainy morning, we spent this time hearing from more professors and PhD students at Cornell. One of the main themes I have seen throughout the talks is that people who pursue a PhD often have a curiosity for research and like problem finding rather than problem solving. I think I would like to pursue a Master's or PhD but I am someone who prefers problem solving, as I enjoy the satisfaction of finding the solution to a problem. However, my interests may change in the future, so I am keeping an open mind towards graduate school.

One lecture I enjoyed today was given by Jon Kleinberg, a professor of CS and Interim dean of CIS (Cornell’s School of Computing and Information Science). He showed a data visualization of the friends of someone on Facebook and the connections between friends (mutual friends).

As someone who is minoring in Business Analytics, this map of depicting the connections between people really piqued my interest. It makes me want to recreate it myself using my data of Facebook friends.

Another professor covered the topic of bitcoin. The more I heard about it, the more it sounded like blockchain was a form of an immutable linked list.

We also viewed a data network center at Cornell. As I walked through rows of cable and boxes, I realized I barely know anything about how devices connect to the internet and how a network server works. It’s something I will have to YouTube later.

8 - SoNIC Workshop Day 1

After a long trip and many complications with flights, I arrived in Ithaca yesterday for the Cornell SoNIC Summer Research Workshop. I applied to this workshop a few months ago, and to my delight was accepted to attend and learn from some of the best CS professors at Cornell University. This workshop is an opportunity for those in under-represented groups to feel encouraged to get a PhD through an all-expenses paid trip and sponsored by Google and Instagram.

Today was the first day of the workshop. We were mostly introduced to the idea of pursuing research through anecdotes from the Dean of Computing and Information Science (CIS) Greg Morrisett and the Dean of Engineering Lance Collins. Both deans emphasized the importance of a PhD as the path to life long learning, broadening our horizons within the field of computer science. We were also introduced to the idea behind SoNIC, which started as a PhD research project on computer networks. The founder of the workshop, Professor Hakim Weatherspoon, expanded the project by adding the workshop.

The focus of the workshop is on cloud computing and networks, so we learned about how data is transferred from the internet to the user. This involves packets, which hold the information needed. I didn’t know that there were gaps between packets and that even when a page finishes loading, idle gaps are being sent. It really made it clear that I should start researching CS topics on my own and not rely on my classes.

We were also able to explore the Falls of Ithaca. It was a great way for all the workshop participants to mingle and socialize!

I’m very excited for the rest of the workshop!

7 - Fear of Failure

"Fear of failure" is something that a lot of high achievers are familiar with. Growing up, I've often felt like there isn't room for me to make mistakes. A lot of my worst memories are of times I have failed to succeed.

Today, I ran for an Exec position for the Women in Technology club that I am a part of. I wanted to be the Communications officer but unfortunately did not get elected for the position. As someone who has had prior experience as both a president and a secretary of different clubs, I tried to reassure myself that I do have the experience that would have made me qualified for the position. However, it still hurts that I wasn't elected, although I am happy for the other person who ran, as she would also fit the role well.

Moving forward, it is also hard, sometimes, to justify even trying. If I'm bound to fail, why do I keep trying? In fact, this is not the first time I have run for a position and lost. Back in 6th grade, I remember being so disappointed, going home and crying after I failed to win the Treasurer position of Student Council. I have never done well in an election, to be honest. All of the positions I have held were always chosen by the advisor or the previous position-holders.

Now, I realize, that perhaps the problem isn't my qualifications. Rather, it is the way I put myself out there and the way people perceive me. Perhaps, they can see the self-confidence that I am lacking. I could perhaps say that what I feel is "impostor syndrome." This all ties back to my fear of failure.

As a young adult, I am living in that time where it is hard to have confidence and self-esteem in myself, from my appearance to my accomplishments. When I do poorly on an exam, I struggle to make myself feel better again about my intelligence. I question myself, "Am I even smart enough to understand this? What am I doing wrong?" And other times, I have trouble accepting the way I look. Sometimes I look at the mirror and think "Why can't my face be smaller? Why can't my eyes be bigger? Why can't my acne go away?" In this age of the internet, it is so easy to compare ourselves with the people around us and wonder why we aren't as successful as the people around us. And at the same time, it feels like every failure is permanent and something that can be used against me.

You might be able to see where I'm going with this. My fear of failure comes from my lack of self love. If I were able to believe in myself, there would be no need to be scared to fail. Because at least then I would have known that I tried and that's what matters.

With that said, maybe my goal for the rest of 2019 should be to learn to love myself.

6 - TOPIK and Learning Korean

Many of my friends know I listen to a lot of Korean pop. Because of my love to Korean music, I have become interested in Korean culture. As someone who also comes from an Asian background, it is interesting to see the differences between Japanese and Korean cultures, as well as the tensions between the two countries. In fact, I only learned about the tensions between the two countries because I had become interested in Korean culture. This is something I would have known if I had lived and grown up in Japan. The tensions come from the imperialistic era of Japan, where they conquered some of China, Korea, etc. Unfortunately, the people living under Japanese rule were exploited so this resentment has lasted for quite a while. It doesn't help that Japan has not formally apologized for the wrongdoings.

However, this has not deterred me from being interested in Korean culture. Unfortunately, UC doesn't offer any sort of Korean class. Instead, I was wondering if Korea has something like Japan's JLPT test for foreigners to prove their language proficiency. And I found it! It is called Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK). This made me think that for one of my honors experiences, I could try learning the language and attempt to pass the first level. I looked at a practice exam and wow does it look difficult. I will probably end up putting more than 75 hours into it haha! But because it is something I already had an interest in and would probably do anyway, it's worth it.

5 - Meeting w/ My Academic Advisor

Today I met with my academic advisor for CS. This was my first time meeting her because over winter break, my CS advisor changed. She was organized and friendly, just as an advisor should be. I was thankful that she had put in the effort to know what I was doing outside of CS before even meeting me (in regards to the University Honors Program and my coop program). She also considered different programs that I might be interested in and we talked about those during our meeting as well. I definitely enjoyed speaking with her more than my previous advisor and I'm excited to work with her for the next 4 years.

4 - Google Cloud Platform

Today I had the opportunity to attend a "Cloud Study Jam" hosted by a Google Campus Representative at UC. We used the Google Cloud Platform and Qwiklabs tutorials to learn more about the power of cloud computing. As someone who wants to minor in Business Analytics (the closest UC has to a data science degree for undergraduates), cloud computing is something that is highly used in the world of data science.

We learned about Google Cloud Platform as being an Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service, which is why it makes it so easy for businesses and researchers to do cloud computing without the need of a physical server and upkeeping. The labs are timed, so it prevented me from fully understanding what was going on but I think I got a good preview. As part of the Study Jam, we got $100 credits toward the Google Cloud Platform, so I am excited to try it out and see if I can learn a little bit more about it.

3 - Reflection

As my first year in college comes close to an end, I thought about some of the things I have accomplished so far and the many more things I would like to accomplish. Here is a simple reflection post on what I am thinking about.

  1. I should (have) become more active on campus

    There are so many opportunities for personal growth on UC's campus that I haven't taken advantage of. Although I tried to go to student org meetings in the beginning of the year, especially for ACM, ACM-W, WiT, SWE, IEEE, etc., I quickly stopped going. Some of that was due to increasing workload in my classes but I also missed the chance to connect with so many amazing seniors who are going to graduate soon. I'm starting to connect with them now, but to think that I could have gotten to learn more from them if I had known them earlier makes me feel like I could have done better. With every event I attend (RevolutionUC, WiT's trip to WeCode Harvard), I feel a greater sense of community as well.

    Goals for next semester: Get involved! Try to get a leadership position! Go to events!

  2. My WeCode experience

    In late February, I attended the WeCode Harvard conference hosted by female computer science students at, you guessed it, Harvard University. There were some great speakers by women leaders in the industry and good workshops. But what I learned the most was the importance of networking. The amount of information you can learn in one weekend is pretty limited, but the connections you make with people can last a long time and go a long way. I ended up making some new friends who I could connect with in ways I couldn't before. I don't have many female coder friends so I am glad I got the opportunity to connect with some great gals.

    Goals: Attend Grace Hopper 2019!

  3. What can I do to help CS become more 50/50?

    It's almost been two years since I received a Certificate of Distinction from the National Center for Women & Information Technology. One of the things I emphasized in my essay for the Award in Aspirations was my goal to spread knowledge about the field of computer science and technology to young women who may not have the opportunity to learn about it because of stereotypes/lack of resources. It was amazing going to WeCode Harvard and seeing so many other women like me! What can I do to help girls in elementary/middle/high school lean towards tech?

    Goals for next semester: Think about ways to spread knowledge/ implement a program!

  4. College is not just about good grades

    As someone who has always valued getting good grades and having a high GPA, I have to remember that in the real world, we're not always defined by numbers (except for our credit scores). The things we experience, the challenges we face, the opportunities we receive dictate what we do with our lives. And although this may sound like a repeat of #1, taking advantage of the resources around me is something I need to do. In a field like computer science, a 4.0 doesn't mean anything if you can't problem solve and improve a process/program. If you can do both, that's great, but it's not always realistic.

    Goals: Be well rounded! Don't think that trying to get good grades is all I need to do!

2 - Women in Technology Capture the Flag

Today I had the opportunity to attend Women in Technology (WiT)'s Capture the Flag event. The event was for beginner/intermediate levels, which was perfect for my first Capture the Flag. It exposed me to the linux system and how to use terminals. As a CS major, I've heard a lot of people like linux, so I was glad that I could play around with it on a safe space on the VM. My partner and I got second place, and received a touch screen hacking device and a Raspberry pi gaming system, respectively. I can't wait until the summer so that I can play around with my new Raspberry pi!

1 - Meeting w/ My Honors Advisor

Today I met with my honors advisor, Meghan Morris. I didn't know what to expect, but I felt very welcomed within the first 5 minutes of our talk. It was refreshing to meet someone who wasn't connected to CEAS. We discussed how I am doing so far in the semester and what some of my plans are during my time in the Honors program.

Ideas for experiences
  1. An experience centered around my 20th coming-of-age ceremonial pictures in Japan
  2. Photographic journey of South Korea, capturing people's lives
  3. European backpacking trip (something that has been on my bucket list)
  4. Data science research (to supplement my Business Analytics minor that I will be working towards)
  5. Learning a new programming language over the summer (need to apply by April 5th!)
  6. Trip to Turkey to reestablish my roots?
  7. Leadership position in a student org

I learned that experiences can be pretty flexible as long as there is some growth in character to achieve becoming a Global Citizen Scholar. Although there are seminars that can be taken as well, since I am a technical major, I wanted to use my experiences to focus more on my creative side.

I got a lot out of meeting Meghan today, and I'm excited to see where my Honors path will take me!