How did you initially learn about TSA; what motivated you to join?
I took a technology education class with my high school's TSA chapter advisor at the time, Mr. Nick Helbling, and he was very enthusiastic about welcoming students to the TSA chapter. He would encourage everyone to come to a meeting and he helped nurture a fun atmosphere in our chapter. I already enjoyed technology, engineering, and design—so joining TSA seemed like a given. Also, many TSA events are project-based; I really liked that aspect of having a clear end-product to work toward.
What attributes did you gain from being a TSA member?
Serving as treasurer, secretary, vice president, then as president of Maryland TSA (MD TSA) taught me so much about how to be a good teammate, how to motivate people and get buy-in, and how to listen. I learned that leadership does not always mean having the loudest voice or the brightest ideas. The mentors I gained through TSA taught me that the most effective leaders focus on taking care of their team by cultivating an environment where people feel safe, empowered, and valued enough to contribute their ideas and their passions.
Mr. Scott Bernstein, my MD TSA state advisor, gave me and my fellow officers a lot of freedom to grow and develop MD TSA, which taught me to trust myself, my ideas, and my ability to execute.
TSA taught me to believe in myself.
How did TSA come up when you applied for the internship at Google?
I talked about my experience with TSA during one of my Google interviews, and I think the details of my experience showed that I was comfortable being independent, taking initiative, and solving open-ended problems—which are all qualities that boosted my candidacy.
After all, TSA is the place where I learned to speak extemporaneously with confidence and clarity. Competing in Debating Technology Issues and Extemporaneous Speech—as well as running for several state TSA offices—honed my speaking skills and helped me learn how to relate to an audience. That really helped me a lot during my Google interviews because, I felt, they value candidates who would make good team members and future leaders.
What are you working on at Google?
Open-source, cross-platform mobile app development software. I developed iOS "widgets" so that developers using the app have an easier, quicker experience developing iOS apps that look just like native apps.
What advice do you have for current TSA student members?
Trust yourself. You are so much stronger and smarter than you know, but the only way to develop yourself is by pushing your limits. Trust yourself to land on your feet when you try something new—whether trying to build a robot, competing in a public speaking event, or running for office for the first time. You got this!
Also, trust your teammates. Support them when they are venturing out of their comfort zone, and trust them to support you in turn. Being on a team that takes care of each other is an amazing feeling. Do your part proactively to make that happen.