Aspiring software engineer Amelia Aboujawdah, an undergraduate at California State University Northridge (CSUN), is the newest member of the Broadvoice engineering team. This summer, she joined our company as part of a new internship program to invest in top talent and promote education for engineers.
Finding tech talent is a challenge for most businesses in today’s digital world. There’s high demand, not enough skilled professionals to go around and too few students choosing technical career paths.
With this in mind, we decided to launch an internship program. At the same time, we wanted to give back to the local community near our headquarters in Northridge, Calif.
We contacted CSUN, the alma mater of several Broadvoice employees, including CEO Jim Murphy, for assistance and found the perfect opportunity through the institution’s College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) Honors Co-op Program.
To qualify for the Honors Co-op Program, CSUN students must meet strict academic qualifications and complete an application before being considered for paid internships with area businesses.
Jerry Fernholz, our Vice President of Software Engineering, and David Bonilla-Toledo, one of our technical leads, held interviews with pre-screened applicants to assess who would be the best fit. In addition to answering typical questions, prospective interns also had to complete practical interviews, which involve solving a coding problem in real time.
Amelia was one of a few students who met with Fernholz and Bonilla-Toledo. She not only impressed our engineering team leaders with her enthusiasm and effective communications skills, but she also passed the practical interview, successfully making software coding adjustments on the spot.
“Amelia is eager to learn and quick to understand the task at hand,” said Bonilla-Toledo. “She collaborated well with Jerry and me to solve the coding problem we presented to her. She was by far the best candidate, so we offered her the opportunity and we’re thrilled that she accepted.”
Aboujawdah became Broadvoice’s first software engineering intern on June 1, 2021. She will work full-time at our company until the start of CSUN’s fall semester, when she will transition to a part-time basis until she graduates in the spring of 2022. Based on her outstanding performance, we hope that she’ll consider staying on after graduation.
Aboujawdah, a California native of the Simi Valley, got started in computer science at CSUN after spending two years pursuing an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University. While she retains a love of astronomy, she prefers the practical nature of software programming to the abstract quality of physics.
“Physics was very conceptual; with computer science, it’s hands-on, always changing and I’m always learning,” said Aboujawdah.
At Broadvoice, Aboujadawah is being introduced to multiple types of software engineering, including:
- Development Operations (DevOps), which includes configuration and deployment of software architecture
- Data layer, which is related to databases
- User interfaces
- Telephony backend for telecommunications and signals
As a member of Broadvoice’s software engineering staff, Aboujawdah’s spends her days immersed in the following activities:
- Learning the software coding languages Ruby and Ruby on Rails
- Learning software debugging programming language Pry to debug and modify software systems
- Learning computer-domain specific language testing tool RSpec to test Ruby code
- Meeting daily with Bonilla-Toledo to report on project progress and ask questions to further her education
- Shadowing Bonilla-Toledo to see our software engineers in action as they interact and troubleshoot issues
- Collaborating with our software engineers on bug fixes and security updates, which are standard for web-based applications that Broadvoice offers to businesses
“Everything Amelia is working on will be used in Broadvoice’s production system, just like any other engineer on our staff,” said Bonilla-Toledo, explaining that Amelia is helping the team to update the core systems that support Broadvoice’s communications applications.
“I’m a very detail-oriented person and I enjoy building something and solving problems in software coding,” said Aboujadawah. “At Broadvoice, I like the fact that I’m helping people and enabling them to connect using our software applications.”
“Plus, everyone has been very welcoming and open with me at Broadvoice, so the company culture is definitely one I’m glad to be a part of, particularly as a woman in the STEM field.”
Based on the early success of our internship, we’re looking forward to bringing on additional aspiring engineers in 2022.