Sloane Sambuco is a Computer Science and Economics student at Dartmouth College. She has interned in the Studio Operations and Finance departments at Activision Blizard, Getmii at Harvard Innovation Labs, Infobase Holdings Inc. and Autism Speaks. Sloane was also part of the team that developed Praise Pop, an award winning app that has been praised internationally.
1. In layperson’s terms, explain what you do.
I am currently an undergrad at Dartmouth College, pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Economics.
I have always loved math, but I discovered my love of computer science as a sophomore. I took classes and summer courses since then to develop my skills. Recently I’ve realized that my passion lies in the intersection between business and technology, so instead of coding this summer, I took the opportunity to work at Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard is the world's most successful standalone interactive entertainment company. Their portfolio includes some of the most popular gaming franchises, including Call of Duty, Destiny, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush, and Guitar Hero. I have been working on Activision’s Studio Operations team, focusing on business development projects. I have absolutely loved the experience so far!
In the past, I've developed my passion for technology and business on a relatively wide spectrum. A few summers ago, I worked at the company Infobase Holdings, which provides cloud-based educational services to the public. As a development intern, I coded for 8 hours a day. I learned so much during that summer. Last summer I worked at the small iPhone app startup Getmii where I took on a more personal role, conducting focus groups, and analyzing user data to give the company advice on how to best appeal to users. It was really fun to be in a startup setting and a totally new experience for me.
This summer I really wanted to work at Activision to grow further as a professional and use my skills as a passionate worker, entrepreneur, and communicator to contribute to Activision. I wanted to learn how to drive growth, and learn more about the entertainment industry as a whole.
2. Why did you choose to pursue computer science?
I took my first computer science class out of curiosity, my enthusiasm for math, and my desire to create. I love computer science because it binds the abstract and concrete—I am able to transform my ideas from sketches and notes to something tangible and interactive.
Although I began exploring computer science my sophomore year, my passion really took off after I participated in the Technovation Challenge. The competition was an amazing experience. The competition makes you start from the roots: find a problem in your community. Then, build an app that alleviates that problem. I learned that so much goes into creating an app and tech startup. My teammates and I had to come up with the idea, the brand, the name/logo/theme, the code, the business plan, and the importance and relevance of our app. We also had to create a pitch and present it at MIT and the Yelp Headquarters in San Francisco.
3. What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I love the tech world because you are always looking towards the future. It’s not just seeing what is going to be big in the next year, but it is trying to predict what is going to excite the world in 5 or 10 years out. I find the tech world exciting; there is a certain creative energy and liveliness that I am incredibly attracted to.
4. What roadblocks have you faced on your path to where you are today?
I think my persistence is what has helped me most push through roadblocks. I remember sitting down at my internship at Infobase Learning, and although I had had experience coding, I had no clue how to even start the project I was assigned. However, through self-teaching, googling, and lots of trial and error, I ended up completing the project and ending the internship with a new understanding of C# and SQL.
5. What has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
One of my greatest achievements was creating PraisePop with my three friends. Starting from scratch, we created our app idea, constructed a business plan, analyzed our market, coded, and pitched our app at the Yelp Headquarters in San Francisco as part of the international competition, Technovation. We ended up placing 1st in the US and second in the world for our work.
6. What do you believe is the most important thing for girls to know before pursuing computer science?
I want young girls interested in pursuing technology to never second-guess their passion. Questioning whether I belonged in an environment of devising algorithms, writing iterative for-loops, and googling compiler error messages with males troubled me for years; in all of my computer science experiences, whether it be a class at school, a summer course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, or an internship at Infobase Holdings, I have been one among few women. This exclusiveness stretched far beyond my personal environment—reading and watching the news, I saw male innovators like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos dominate the tech-field, creating companies like Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. No one ever directly told me that I should not or could not code; it was more the lack of females around me who code that confused me and caused me to second-guess my interest. Where were the women in STEM? Was I crazy to pursue this field?
Despite this discouraging predicament, my passion drove me forward, steadily and surely. I took my first computer science class out of curiosity, my enthusiasm for math, and my desire to create. I love computer science because it binds the abstract and concrete—I am able to transform my ideas from sketches and notes to something tangible and interactive.
I want young girls to embrace their passion for technology no matter what obstacles they may face. Believing in their idea, product, and most importantly, their capabilities, is what will drive them to success.
7. How do you think your field will change in 10 years?
Regarding the tech industry in general, I think new technologies will be developed to grow the sharing economy. We have already seen a huge shift towards it: now you can share cars via Uber, stay in someone else’s house via Airbnb, sail in someone else’s boat through Sailo, and even fly in someone else’s private plane via OpenAirplane. I think systems of sharing and exchange will only continue to expand, and I think it’s possible that our perception of “ownership” will change in the future.
8. What motivates you?
I am motivated by my desire to help people and make the world a better place. I think tech is a great industry to go into because you have the power to create new technologies that can really improve people’s lives.
9. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
My mom always reminds me that 80% of life is showing up. I couldn’t agree more. Even if you just want lie in bed and watch Netflix, you should get up and go to that event or lecture or performance because you never know when you will be inspired, meet someone, or come across an opportunity. Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them, and sometimes you have the best time after giving yourself that extra nudge to walk out the door.
10. If you could go back in time what advice would you give your high school self?
Be resilient. I’ve always been the type of person who gets right back up when I’m knocked down, but I think others have trouble with this. It’s something you can train yourself to do, and I think it’s so important to success. Everyone fails. Constantly. But the people who are going to do the most with their lives are the once who bounce right back up with even more excitement and zeal. Be feisty!
If you have any more questions, or would like to reach out to Sloane, her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org