Name: Selina Nie
Hometown: The Hague, The Netherlands
Major: Double major in Computer Science and Design
What is it that you’re involved with at Penn that you’re most passionate about?
I think recently it would be Penn Labs, but in the past it’s been Theta Tau. I think that especially with being online and COVID, it’s kind of been harder for some of the social things to happen for Theta Tau, whereas for Penn Labs, we’re an app and web development group, so all of our work can still happen remotely … but obviously I’m the President of Theta Tau, so I really enjoy my time there and I’m really involved in that.
How did you become involved in Theta Tau?
Someone approached me freshman year and asked if I’d heard of it, and they were part of it, and they told me that I’d probably really like it, and it seemed like my sort of vibe. I really didn’t know about it, and I was already part of a sorority on campus but none of them were really in the Engineering School, and I didn’t really have many mentors in my Computer Science classes or anything like that, and I thought it would be a really cool thing to get involved in. Especially career–wise, I had no idea what I was doing. So I thought that it would be really cool to have mentorship in that regard, so I rushed my sophomore fall, and I got in, which was really awesome. It has been an incredible community. I love how people are there for you no matter what—whether it be academics, pre–professional, or just to hangout. I really love the community.
What is it like being the President of Theta Tau?
It’s been a little hard obviously. I became President last December, so I had a couple good months in person. It’s nice being able to lead the charge on a lot of the things that we do. A lot of it is just traditions and keeping the brotherhood tight as a group, but also just conducting the rush process, and recruiting new members, and keeping the ship running. It’s a lot of awesome and really rewarding events that we usually have in person, and a lot of them don’t translate well online so it’s been a bit of a challenge to keep things going. We’re making it work though. As the youngest child in my family, I never really had the opportunity to mentor younger people, so it’s been rewarding for me to be able to do that and be a leader. And also just to drive the energy over Zoom has been really fun. The people are really great, so it’s not hard to have to rally the troops.
How did you become involved with Class Board?
I’m the creative director of Class Board … I did student government in high school, and I really liked it, and obviously with my second major in design I love creative things. So freshman year they put something in the Facebook group or an email saying they were looking for two creative directors and I realized it was up my alley … I also didn’t have to do a campaign, which intimidated me. So, I just sent in an application, they interviewed me, and I got the position, which was really great. It’s been rewarding but also a challenge to try and create events that will serve our 2.5 thousand person class.
How do your two interests in design and computer science work together?
Coming into Penn, I was in the Engineering School, and I was just doing computer science. It’s really cool—I’ve always liked math and have always found computer science really compelling and interesting being able to connect people around the world. … At the same time, all of my extracurriculars were really geared towards creative things. I always knew that I had this creative outlet, and I wanted to sort of take some of my elective classes and do fine arts. I really love the fine arts department here. It’s amazing. The beginning of my junior year they released the design major, and I realized it was something that I could really see myself doing. I always knew I sort of had this interest in user experience, so doing front–end web development and mapping out user journeys and creating the flow of how a user would use a product, website, or app, because that seemed like a cool intersection of the creative and human side of technology, but also a place where I could use my technical background as well and have them fuse together. So that’s how I picked up the design major, and also how I joined Penn Labs because there aren’t many places where you can practice those skills in an actual work environment.
What responsibilities do you have at Penn Labs?
I am a Team Lead for Penn Clubs, which used to just be an online directory of all the clubs on campus. I started there as a designer, but as I progressed they “promoted me” so to speak to a Team Lead. It’s sort of similar to what a product manager does: My Co–Lead Eric and I lead the team of designers, developers, and business developers to create this holistic product. We have a lot of meetings with external bodies. For example, with the SAC fair being online this year, we facilitated that on our platform, so for that we did a lot of meetings with SAC and OSA. Because that was very successful, we’ve been approached by other organizations like NSO and the different councils—Wharton Council, for example—to try and make their experiences better. … I lead the team and also do design, so making things look nice in a nutshell but also way more than that—making sure that experiences are intuitive and scoping some of the features out that we want to build.
How does Penn Labs function as a community?
We have what we like to say is one of the most active Slack workspaces ever. So, of course, there are the work channels—we have many different products, so like PennCourseReview, Penn Course Plan, Mobile, all of that, so we have those different teams, which are between five to ten people, but as a whole group we also do social events, like picnicking on high rise field for those who are comfortable with that. We also have a lot of people interested in games, so we have an Among Us channel for anyone that wants to play. It’s really nice to have a community that’s work and play, and they’re also great for suggesting classes, clubs to join, and everyone is of course very talented in the development area so it’s been an added plus to have that network of alumni.
What has been your most memorable experience at Penn?
For Class Board my sophomore year, my Board put together a novel event called U–Night. Freshmen have Convocation, juniors have Hey Day, and seniors have final toast and all their graduation, but sophomores were just laying in this limbo of not having much to celebrate. So we created this event called U–Night, and it was kind of an event to celebrate the differences and challenges that people have gone through, and celebrating this halfway point through your Penn experience. It was an awesome experience planning that and putting together all the promotional material and what the different pieces of the event would look like, and finally seeing it come to fruition on College Green with all the balloons and food and everything. Seeing that come to life was pretty insane, and of course we’re hoping that tradition will become something that will continue for years to come, but with COVID we haven’t seen it come back yet.
What is next for you after Penn?
I’m going to be doing product design at Dell Technologies in Austin. That’s where I did my internship this summer, and as a community it was really great to be able to learn from such awesome designers. … Hopefully, if things clear up, Austin is an absolutely amazing place to live as a young person, which I’m really excited about.
Last song that you listened to?
"Afterthought" by Joji.
What’s something that people wouldn’t guess about you?
I was a three–season athlete in high school. I’m not athletic now.
If you were a building on campus, which one would you be and why?
I would be Addams, the Fine Arts building. There’s so much going on inside of it that you don’t see from the outside, and I feel like my head is always spinning, even if I feel like I seem more put together than I am. Not to mention that I’ve spent many, many hours there, so it has a personal connection to me.
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
I think I would want telekinesis, so I could move things with my mind. I have been laying in my bed all day, so being able to reach things without having to get up would be great.
Any hobbies you picked up in quarantine?
I picked up gardening with my mom and my sisters. We have a great little garden with a ton of herbs and vegetables, it’s very cute and something nice to see when you wake up.
There are two types of people at Penn…
Those who have suffered the wrath of CIS 160, and those who haven’t.
And you are?
Unfortunately, someone who has suffered it.