Student Spotlight - Meet Amy Tai! Computer Science Major, Harvard 2013
By Kelsey Cruz
“Computer science lets you tackle and solve seemingly abstract problems in a very concrete way,” said Amy Tai, a junior computer science major at Harvard University. “There's also a certain beauty to the field of computer science because it's all built on the little electrons that are jumping around in the transistors in your processor.”
Although she is currently studying computer science, Tai didn’t declare it as a major when she started at Harvard. During her freshman year, she took two computer science courses and fell in love.
In her field, Tai rubs shoulders with some of the brightest people in the world at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. Surprisingly, despite the computer science field being such a male-driven industry, she doesn’t let the pressure affect her.
“I have never downplayed my skills because I am a female,” she explained. “I agree that a lot of men can be daunting (and even mean to women who are in the field), but I think women should just ignore any kind of social pressure and do what they love.”
This summer, Tai followed her own advice by filling out an application form and procuring an internship at one of the wealthiest companies in the world – Google.
“Working at Google is one of the most refreshing experiences I have ever encountered because everyone is so intelligent and passionate,” she said. “It was definitely hands-on, and I got to work on a project that was interesting, challenging, and useful to my team.” (Ed. Note: Tai is under confidentiality to not disclose information about the summer project.)
Although an internship at Google will be quite the resume booster, if Tai changes her mind about a job in the computer science industry, she would love to become a pastry chef. She enjoys making and eating food and has a sweet tooth for baked goods. A regular Julia Child, she dreams of studying culinary arts – specifically pastry – in France.
When she’s not attending class or interning at Google or baking cookies (phew!), she’s enjoying a plethora of other activities. During her freshman year, Tai was in a chamber music group and played in the pit of a freshman musical. She also blew off steam in intramural sports, citing basketball as her favorite. An avid puzzler, she is the founder and president of Harvard’s Cube Club, an organization for those who enjoy (and solve) Rubik’s cubes. She organizes biannual tournaments for the club and enjoys competing against and befriending other puzzlers.
Although Tai wears many hats – student, Google intern, club president – she is a scientist first and foremost. Because of her knowledge of the gender divides that exist in the computer science field, she understands the importance of WISE Words Magazine.
“This magazine is essential to cementing a female presence in science,” she said. “Society is beginning to realize that its previous divides have been foolish, and women are beginning to realize that that have just as much talent as men when it comes to science.”
Tai is a scientist to respect and admire. She is revolutionizing the computer science field and shattering the glass ceiling by simply doing what she loves.
“You need to present yourself with problems that you go to bed thinking about and wake itching to solve,” she explained. “If you love what you do, then you will be able to succeed no matter who tells you otherwise.”
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About the Author
Kelsey Cruz is a Magazine Journalism major at Temple University in Philadelphia. Although she always struggled with anything science-related in school, she is fascinated by the intelligence and determination of scientists. She strongly believes in WISE Words Magazine and its vision and hopes its message can influence scientists and women everywhere.