I’ve spent most of this summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, staying in Women’s Independent Living Group (WILG). These past few days, the heat wave has made even walking outdoors feel like swimming through a dryer. The ends of my hair have withered and splintered, and my face has broken out terribly due to an unfortunate combination of sunscreen and perspiration. I am probably not made for temperatures higher than eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Still, it’s my first summer spent almost completely in New England, and while the weather leaves much to be desired, there is still a lot of beauty to be found here. The sunshine drenches everything in ethereal paleness. People carry themselves more loosely now. Sometimes I can’t find a BlueBike because they’ve been all claimed, but even when that happens, I’m not upset, because it means others are experiencing the joy of sailing down the street with the wind at their backs. (It’s easier to be generous when I’m not rushing to class.)
Here’s what I’m doing this summer:
- Interning: In January of this year, my summer internship decisions came down to two companies, one in Cambridge, Massachusetts and one in the San Francisco Bay Area. At the time, it wasn’t clear if these internships would be in-person or remote. I knew that I could stay at WILG if I interned in Cambridge, but I’d have to search for housing in San Francisco. Also, I knew some people who’d interned at the Cambridge company in the past. So I decided to join Kensho, a data science company at Harvard Square, as a full-stack software engineering intern. I really like the people here, they’re so knowledgeable and eager to help.
- Contracting: My younger brother recently became chief-of-staff at a startup in the Web 3.0 space, so I agreed to do some contractor work for them. I’m doing everything from content writing to full-stack engineering to recruiting. It’s quite different from being an intern at a company that has existed for many years already; everything is so new here, and there is a lot of room to grow. It’s exciting to be around other young people with so much conviction and ambition.
- Managing: I’m counting this as my third job since I do get paid (in the form of subsidized rent). I’m a house manager for WILG, which means I assign chores and do other tasks required to keep our house running. It turns out a lot can go wrong in a house!
- Studying: I need to get credit for 18.03, Differential Equations, for my math major. I’d rather not take the class, so I’m sitting for the Advanced Standing Exam (ASE) in September. The 18.03 ASE comes with a very long homework packet, which I need to . . . start. . .
- Drawing: I’m enrolled in Alternative Explorations of Drawing (Advanced), which is a weekly drawing class offered through the MIT Student Art Association. I haven’t drawn much in the last few years, but there’s something very soothing about charcoal darkening my palms, the conversation I have with the piece of paper in front of me and nobody else.
- Reading: I’ve been catching up on all the reading I haven’t gotten to do during the school year. So far, I’ve read Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, and I started The Idiot by Elif Batuman but I’m not sure if I’ll finish it, so I’ve moved on to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
- Watching: I watched all of Stranger Things season 4 and I’m getting through The Summer I Turned Pretty right now. Several weeks ago, I saw the new Minions movie. I’m trying to avoid watching too much television, as my schedule is already quite full.
- Writing: I’ve still been working with Simon & Schuster for the two YA novels I’m under contract for. I’m also collaborating on something with one of my best friends, Steven T. ’20. It’s been my dream for a while to do a graphic novel as well, but given all of my other obligations, I don’t know when I’ll have time to do such a time-intensive project. Also, fellow blogger Alan Z. ’23 is running a weekly poetry group that I’m involved in!
- Traveling: I went back home to Portland for a few weeks at the end of the school year to see my family, and then I went down to Los Angeles in June for a reunion with some friends I lived with last year. Earlier this month, I got invited to a yacht party in New York City so I visited, and then the next weekend I had another reunion in the Big Apple with the tech-for-good program I was involved in last summer, so I went down again.
- Questioning: The last few years, the same question has pressed into me from all sides: what do I want my life to be like? Do I want a life where I’m a software engineer at an established company? Do I want a life where I’m wearing many hats at somewhere early-stage? Do I want a life where I read and write and draw? Sylvia Plath and her famous fig tree. Sometimes I think I want to stay here forever, as if this summer can be bottled in a glass jar. The other Kensho interns started talking about return offers, and it isn’t that I don’t want a return offer; I do, of course I do. But I’m afraid of what would happen if I got an offer with a pretty number. Of who I would become if I accepted. People tell me, “Well, you can work at a day job to pay the bills and do what you really love on the side,” but I don’t know how to explain to them is that what I really love is obsessing over something and giving all of myself to it. In January 2020, I built a web app with my two friends; we pulled twelve-hour days for weeks. It was all I could think about. I loved my teammates so much, I loved what we were making. I’ve been searching for that sort of happiness ever since.