Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Overview and HCS Structure


Project Summary

The service role that this project covers is my role as president of the Harvard Computer Society (HCS) during the year of 2017. Throughout this project, I will cover HCS' history and structure, how I personally got involved with the society, and how it continues to make an impact on campus. Some of the specific topics that I will cover are the establishment of the membership system that HCS has worked so hard to create and how the society has evolved to fit the entrepreneurial and technical needs of this new membership base. As we progress through this project, the following question will be answered given HCS' history and context: How can HCS improve members' accessibility to entrepreneurial and professional offerings while still continuing to maintain a social community within the society?

HCS Today

HCS is an independent, Harvard-recognized student group on Harvard College’s campus, and our main goal is two-pronged:
  1. Provide members of varying technological proficiency levels the tools and skills they need to be professionally successful after college.
  2. Create a community around technology that will serve as a campus-wide support system. In this regard, HCS encourages entrepreneurial spirit and is always looking for ways in which to expand HCS members’ professional circles.
‚ÄčTo learn more about what HCS is working on, you can visit their website here.

How to Join

In order for someone to become a member of the society, they must first complete the comp process that is offered every semester throughout the school year. The word “comp” is used loosely because anyone that completes the process is granted membership. During this process, a potential member would need to attend a set number of bootcamps that the society’s very own Directors of Education administer. Each bootcamp comes with its own lesson that teaches the students a new applicable technical skill, such as learning how to use GitHub, creating an API, and introducing Python. At the end of the bootcamp, the bootcampers are given an assignment that they are allowed to complete in teams. One assignment teaches how to scrape the information from one’s Facebook account and play around with the data to find neat facts, such as who messages you the most or who likes your messages more often. If the students attend the needed bootcamps and complete the respective the assignments, they will be granted HCS membership. As of March 2018, we currently have 98 members in the society. 


Once a member, a student has access to a variety of different resources exclusive to HCS members. The following is a list of some of these benefits:
  1. Access to funding for personal projects
  2. Priority selection for tech company events and outings
  3. Assignment to a mentor (Big O/Little o program)
  4. Community dinners with other members and alumni

Funding for personal projects is a new development that I spearheaded during my presidency. The rationale behind it was that it can quite often be expensive to start one's own project, and HCS exists to ensure that entrepreneurship and intellectual exploration. As a result, I implemented a system in which members can present a project proposal and a prototype of their project to the board. Afterwards, the board discusses the amount to give based on the project needs. Some personal projects that our members have been able to build with the help of HCS funding are: Bible notation apps, electric skateboards, wooden digital watches, and dining hall chat-bots. 

HCS Sponsors and Partner Companies

‚ÄčThe society is mainly funded by sponsorships from external companies. A sponsorship deal is a multifaceted, collaborative opportunity between our external relations directors and the company representatives. These companies are the main means by which the society is able to engage its members on an entrepreneurial level.  Companies interested in engaging with tech oriented Harvard students come to HCS in order to work with through various mediums, such as meals with company recruiters, hackathons, Tech Talks, resume office hours, and other social environments. The fruit of these business relationships is evident when we see members finding technical internships and jobs. Personally, I was able to get an internship with Microsoft because of HCS' close relationship with them, and other members have reported that they have gotten internships with companies such as Capital One and ProMazo thanks to our outreach efforts. For a full listing of HCS sponsors, visit the official HCS sponsors page.  


One of the biggest projects that HCS conducts on campus is Datamatch. This year, about 4000 students participated in Datamatch, which makes this yearly tradition one of Harvard's largest. The project is an online survey released one week before Valentine's Day that contains satirical and comical questions. The user responses are sent through the secret Datamatch algorithm, which pairs people based on how compatible their responses are. These pairs are able to get a free meal at HCS partner restaurants around the Square, which is a new addition that president Harnek Gulati spearheaded by making Zinnekins the first Datamatch restaurant. Datamatch is a great example of one of HCS' initiatives to promote community on Harvard's campus, and there is an entire team dedicated to improving the experience each year. Over the years, we have expanded to include more local restaurants and even other schools. In 2018, Brown, Wellesley, Barnard, and Columbia had their own versions of Datamatch on their respective campuses, and the list of restaurants and vendors has grown to include: El Jefes, Zinnekins, BerryLine, and Hasty Pudding Theatricals. 


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