Aleisha Nelson

Software Engineer and Self-Taught Artist

My Software Engineering Intern Project @WalmartLabs Summer 2016

IMG_5848Over the summer, I had the pleasure of working at Walmart Global eCommerce as a Software Engineering Intern. I worked as a member of the Mobile Android team and implemented personalized geo-notifications for mobile users in order to leverage Walmart’s physical and digital presence. With these notifications, Walmart will be able to increase profit by directing users to nearby stores and by showcasing targeted recommendations for in-store items.

However, what might have been the most exciting part for me was being one of the first Screenshot_2016-08-02-11-11-31 copyfour developers on the project…and the fact that it wasn’t even in production yet. This motivated me to create something really great, something that would catch the SVP’s eye at the end of the summer and make him want to pilot it. And that’s exactly what happened; I presented my project to the manager on my team and the SVP of Engineering and they gave me the green light. So hopefully you can expect to see these push notifications on your own phone sometime in the near future!

I made a demo video of my project using the example of cart abandonment and how geo-notifications will promote users to purchase abandoned items in a nearby store. Check it out below or go to this link for better quality!

Why my disastrous group project was the best thing that ever happened to me

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 1.59.01 PMRecently, I was required to complete a group project for my database systems and concepts course. The project? It required us to use mySQL to create a database schema and PLSQL to create triggers and constraints for a rental management system. We were also asked to then create a GUI which would allow customers to search for available rental properties and create lease agreements. The GUI would also allow property owners to list properties and the dates that they are available for rent. I was assigned to a group of three people – two were seniors who were nearing graduation, and then there was myself, a junior looking forward to another year of classes.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 1.42.40 PMWeeks before the due date, I kept reminding my group partners that we should get a head start otherwise we would have A LOT to do later on. As the due date drew nearer, my partners kept giving me excuses for why they didn’t have time to get together and start the project (i.e. “I’m at a music festival all weekend..” or “I’m going home this weekend”). Sooner than later, it was the night before the project was due. I set up camp in the computer lab prepared to put in at least 5-6 hours. However, when my group partners showed up, they messed around for an hour and then explained that they had had “a really long day” and that they were “just too tired” to keep working. Yes, it was only 9pm, and they were too tired to “work” on the group project that was due the next day that they had not put an ounce of work into yet. I wondered to myself if all seniors were just “checking out” at this point, but still considered their behavior quite rude.

This is when I decided to take it upon myself to complete the project. At first I was
frustrated, going from webpage to webpage trying to learn as much as I could about incorporating SQL statements within php files on my won. Simultaneously, I wondered why my partners were doing this to me. After 6 hours that night, I headed home to bed, feeling slightly better about the project. I woke up early the next morning, still frustrated, but kept plugging away. Eventually, it was all starting to come together. I felt like a pro at php and I had a solid understanding of the oracle database we were working with and how to write mySQL queries.

In retrospect, my group partners put me through a lot of unwanted stress. But today, I have a better understanding of these topics than I would have had if I were to only do 1/3 of the project. Currently, at my summer internship for Walmart Global eCommerce, I am grateful that I now how those php and mySQL skills as they are helping me to complete the tasks given to me. So in a way, I’d like to say thank you to my group project partners and wish them the best in their post-grad life.

Check out my group project here: Greenfield’s Rental Management Inc.

Hack For Humanity 2016

Hack For Humanity (noun): a hackathon hosted by Santa Clara University where students are encouraged to put their talent and technology skills to use for social good. ServiceSubmitForm

This past weekend I participated in my very first hackathon! It was exciting, exhausting, and I learned a lot. In fact, I’m amazed at myself because I arrived at 10am on Saturday knowing little to nothing about Android app dev and I left Sunday morning with a roughly finished product that actually works on an Android phone! It was so cool seeing my team’s and my code come to life. We also enjoyed envisioning how it could actually be put to use in the future.

ServiceSubmitForm2We created an app that we call TinTex, a name which actually has nothing to do with what the app is for.The idea for the app was inspired by one of the sponsors of the hackathon, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara. Essentially our app is built with the purpose of helping refugees find free or low-cost events (such as career prep workshops, job training, language classes, computer classes, and food and clothing drives) in their area in order to ease their integration into society. In the future, we would like the app to have a search filter that would sort out events being held in nearby locations in case of transportation limitation.

Photos taken by Aleisha and on

Back in the Bay

BayAreaI’ve officially made it back to the San Francisco Bay Area and it almost feels like I never even left. As I  wave to all the familiar faces I see on my walks to class, I can’t help but smile. I couldn’t be more excited to be back with some of my closest friends on campus and eating at some of my favorite restaurants once again.

I’m also excited to be back in my computer science classes – this time I’m learning a little bit more about web programming, as well as algorithm theory and analysis. On top of that, I’ve been researching summer internship opportunities in hopes of finding a software engineering position at a company that has an overarching mission to use their technology skills to help society.

IMG_2416Last week I actually had the opportunity to meet with a woman who works at Palantir. She is originally from Minnesota, worked and lived in Cape Town for 4 months, and has now found herself living and working in the bay area – sounds similar to me, huh? Anyway, she gave me a tour of the company and explained a little bit more about what Palantir does – which made me really think about what kind of company I want to work for in the future.  Similar to Palantir’s mission, I want to use technology purposefully and carefully in order to help others.

Photos taken by Aleisha Nelson.

Culture Shock

IMG_1150It’s hard to put into words how beautiful the past 5 months of my life have been. I recently returned to the states after studying abroad for a semester in Cape Town, South Africa – which I can easily say changed my perspective on so many things in so many ways.

While abroad, I found myself less than several feet away from great white sharks, high-fiving seals in kelp forests, and on top of Lion’s Head Peak at 5:30 in the morning in order to see the most incredible sunrise. I faced my fears and went sky diving and I traveled to the most Southern tip of the African continent where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans collide.  I took a road trip through Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia and only had to glance out of the window to see wild elephants, zebras and giraffes.

IMG_1093My study abroad experience taught me so much about who I am as a person and what I stand for, the stereotypes that Africa as a whole faces on a daily basis, and the history of racism that South Africans still struggle with today. That being said, I believe an individual cannot say they have fully experienced culture shock until they come to terms with why exactly they were so “shocked” in the first place and truly understand why there exist such stark differences between cultures.

Photos taken by Aleisha Nelson.

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