Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

My Story with HCS

How and Why I Joined

My first interactions with HCS occurred during Visitas, when, coincidentally, Harnek Gulati (President '16) was my host. He introduced me to the club and everything that it has to offer, thereby, fully convincing me to affiliate myself with HCS months later.  I joined the club at the very beginning of freshman year in 2014 with the goal of meeting more people with a passion for technology and starting to develop my social circles at college. When I joined the club, there were only 15 official members, all of which were on the board. An HCS member was originally defined as someone who was subscribed to the mailing lists, which was about 3,000 students on campus. I attended many of the socials, hackathons, project meetings, and mentor events that the club offered, and I eventually grew attached to the club and the people that participated in it.

Presidency 2017

During the year of 2017, I was happily elected as the president of the Harvard Computer Society, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my academic career. My responsibilities included but were not limited to: handling a budget of over $50,000, negotiating deals with companies like Microsoft and Google to sponsor the club, and organizing board and member meetings to foster community. With regards to the internal development of the club, I was also in charge of organizing the weekly community nights and conducting board meetings with HCS executives, all in an effort to increase community within the organization.

Before my tenure as president, the club was struggling to figure out how to define membership. Originally, anyone that was on the board or subscribed to the HCS mailing lists was considered a member; however, there are more than 3,000 students subscribed to our mailing lists, which made it difficult for anyone to feel like they were an actual member of the club. After being elected, I was faced with not only creating a pipeline by which prospective students could effectively become HCS members, but also retaining these new members and ensuring that the benefits they received would make them feel like true parts of the club.

​The HCS Comp and Retention Efforts

Given HCS’ history of hosting company Tech Talks and other educational events centered around technology, the Education Directors (Eric Timmerman and Grace Zhang) and I decided to spearhead a bootcamp system that would solve this issue and allow any student interested in HCS to join. Prospective members would have to attend a certain number of educational bootcamps based on a given technological topic before becoming members at the end of the semester. Some of the topics include: Intro to Python, GitHub Crash Course, and Intro to Machine Learning. After four semesters, the bootcamps allowed us to grow from twelve board members to over 100 HCS members, and the system persists today.

After creating the bootcamps, the problem of retaining the interest of our members became the focus. One of my main contributions to this issue was my installation of a project funding system in which HCS members could request financial aid for personal projects. Each member that requests funding would pitch their idea to the board; after which, the board would decide how much to grant. This member-specific benefit has had enormous success within the club, and some of the projects that we have funded have been: electric skateboards, iOS apps, hackathon travel funds, and dining hall chatbots.

Life after Presidency

The 2017 HCS board switched to the new 2018 board during December 2017, which included a new set of presidents, Jess Huang and Grace Zhang. Since then, my responsibilities have changed to ushering in a new generation. I have been helping the new board by walking them through general protocols and procedures, thereby, ensuring that they have the proper tools to have a successful year. For example, I gave a few of them a crash course on how to talk with sponsor companies and how to attract new ones into HCS’s circle. ​I still visit the board meetings from time to time, and I just recently recommended the start of an HCS census, which will not only record the member demographics, but also ask for feedback on how HCS can improve. 

Key Events During my Presidency (2017)


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