Information Science, Impostor Syndrome, & Ireland

Hey everyone! My name is Tegan Lapp and I am a rising senior studying Information Science with a minor in Political Science (with a focus on Comparative Politics). I have been at Pitt since my freshman year; however, I was originally enrolled in the Dietrich School with an undecided field of study until I transferred into the School of Computing and Information officially at the beginning of my junior year. Coming into college I was very unsure of myself and my path in life until I went to the Majors and Minors fair during my first semester of freshman year and learned that SCI existed; because it was so new I was not even aware of it! Both my aunt and her partner are involved in IT and cybersecurity and after talking to them my interest in the field only grew, so I began taking IS classes and learning how to code. It’s hard to believe I went from having practically 0 knowledge about IS and programming to now only having two semesters of learning it left.

In my time at SCI I have grown not only academically but professionally. I joined the University of Pittsburgh Blue & Gold Society, giving me the opportunity to work events in alumni relations and meet all sorts of exciting and talented Pitt graduates, but also to meet other amazing and talented Pitt students with as much Pitt pride as me. I also worked as a First Year Mentor for Pitt for two summers, working virtual events to help incoming freshman in the transition from high school to college. I utilized that experience this year to become a Peer Mentor in the School of Computing and Information, aiding the advising team by being a peer support network for any academic and quick advising questions my fellow SCI students may have had. Finally, this past semester I was lucky enough to gain a research position under Professor Morgan Frank, utilizing my coding skills I have learned to analyze data from syllabi across the country to analyze gender bias in academia over the years via professors’ assigned readings. That research opportunity allowed me to take the first steps into gaining confidence in my practical application of my coding and IS skills; however, I’m hoping this internship with University College Dublin’s IT Services will help me to finally beat every student’s worst enemy: Impostor Syndrome. Because of my late introduction to the tech fields and programming, I have often felt a lack of confidence in my abilities, especially comparing myself to my peers who have been programming since middle school. However, I am hoping to prove to myself that I am just as capable as any other IS student throughout the course of the summer and that my lack of early experience does not hinder me, but offers me a unique perspective.

Outside of the classroom or a professional environment I love meeting new people, playing video/board/card games, trying new foods, and exploring new places. What better way to do all of those things all while gaining an amazing professional experience? I would consider myself an introverted nerd on the inside with an unhealthy amount of knowledge regarding Pokémon, Ace Attorney, and Drag Race; but on the outside I am an extroverted person with a love for learning about other people’s passions and stories. That’s why whether I will be meeting other students in our program or natives to Ireland in the workplace, I am excited to hop on my plane and get this whole experience started!

Having experienced Dublin for a measly 3 days in high school on a trip, I knew I wanted to come back and immerse myself in the culture. That is why when I found the International Internship Program for Dublin this summer, I had to apply. I think this opportunity will be a great experience in cultural immersion; there is not enough seasons of ‘Derry Girls’ that will allow one to truly learn the ins and outs and customs of Ireland. I look forward to the culture shock and living in a country different from my own to increase my global education. I also think that working in an internship position will help prepare me professionally and mentally for life after college, providing me with the necessary skills and confidence in myself to be able to pursue my career goals and hone in on a specific career aspiration, as I still am unsure my exact path after graduation. Finally, on a personal note, I hope to grow as an individual. I want to learn more about myself as an independent person who needs to start from the ground-up without the comfort of my normal support system next door.

I can’t believe in less than a week I will be in Ireland, but I am so excited… now I just have to start packing!