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Photo courtesy: Will Essilfie CC’18

Creating Community through Tech

"As I leave Columbia, I will think about how to better create and support the communities I join, and about how to actively reach out to people with experiences and views different than my own."Will Essilfie CC’18

Meet Will Essilfie CC’18, a computer science major with a special concentration in business management, from Seattle, WA.

During his time at Columbia College, Essilfie was focused on community, be it through his major; on the committee for the Application Development Initiative (ADI), a student group that aims to foster a community of students interested in technology; as editor-in-chief of The Columbia Lion, an online student publication; or through his time as a tour guide with the Columbia Undergraduate Admissions’ Undergraduate Recruitment Committee.

After graduation, he’ll take his talents to Facebook as a data scientist.

What are your favorite memories from your time at Columbia College?

I still fondly remember my time living on Wallach 3. We had an amazing community of people and it really felt like a second home to me. Every time you walked into our floor lounge, there was always someone there to talk to and hang out with. We went through a lot of ups and downs as we talked about our lives and goals and, to this day, some of my closest friends are people from this floor.

I also enjoyed my time serving as editor-in-chief of The Columbia Lion, a publication focused on student opinion. Even though I am a computer science major, I loved being in this role because it allowed me to learn about the various points of view within the Columbia community. It also challenged me to reach out to people outside my friend group and ask about them to think about and reflect on their time here and share it with the community.

I also look back fondly on a tech trek to Barcelona with the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs (CORE). Over the course of our spring break, a group of 20 of us went to Barcelona to learn about the startup scene as well as the city’s vibrant culture. The experience was amazing — I fell in love with the city and got to meet so many other students at Columbia. Despite all of us coming from different majors and fields of interests, it was cool getting to learn about our motivations for going on the trip while learning about the tech scene outside the United States.

Lastly, this past year, I have focused a lot on getting to know more people here. After helping with Coffee@CU, a site I worked on that is meant to make it easier to meet other people with similar interests to you, I made a personal goal to talk with a new person every week. Since there are so many unique people here, I wanted to make a better effort to get to know as many people as I could. During the spring semester, I was able to sit down with more than 40 people across all four undergraduate schools and learned a ton about people’s journeys to Columbia and even about how they’ve changed since starting here. While it was a bit challenging to start reaching out to new people at first, doing it was one of my favorite experiences for my last semester here at the College.

My time here at Columbia has been focused a lot around community. As I got to learn more in my classes, I learned even more from the classmates and professors I got to interact with. As I leave Columbia, I will think about how to better create and support the communities I join, and about how to actively reach out to people with experiences and views different than my own. I also hope to help other Columbia members, past and present, reflect on their Columbia experience and to help support the school as best as I can.

What surprised you most about your Columbia College experience?

Becoming a computer science major! When I originally came to Columbia, I thought I was going to major in economics. As luck would have it, I ended up meeting a ton of other computer science majors on my first-year floor, Wallach 3, who pushed me to at least try a programming course. When I finally took them up on their suggestion in my second semester here, I realized I loved being able to take an idea and bring it into reality with a few lines of code. As it turned out, liking The Economist does not equate to wanting to be an economist. By the fall, I had changed majors and now I cannot even imagine what it would be like to not be in my current major.

How has your experience prepared you for your postgraduate plans?

Being at Columbia College has been immensely helpful in preparing me for post-graduate life. In my first year, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Columbia Exploration Externship, which allowed me to learn about what it is like to work in consulting, back when I considered entering that field.

In addition, being in New York City has offered me numerous chances to meet with companies. As a student, I was able to participate in many club trips to meet with companies and recruiters. When it came to getting my first internship, I obtained them through on-campus networking opportunities and interview/resume prep through the Center for Career Education (CCE).

What will you miss most about Columbia College?

I will miss the people here. I have grown so much in my time here at Columbia because of the friends and classmates I have had the chance to interact with. They have introduced me to new topics and experiences different than my own and made me more aware of the different backgrounds we all come from. I’ll miss being in a such a diverse environment that pushes you out of your comfort zone and actively makes you think.

Published Monday May 14, 2018

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