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Student Internship Success Series: Ashley Handoko’s USAA Internship

Ashley Handoko is a recent 2018 graduate from the UT Dallas Computer Science Department’s Undergraduate Program with many accomplishments under her belt. The summer before Ashley started her freshmen year as a CS student at UT Dallas, she was invited to attend Dr. Janell Straach’sConnect-Inspire-Guide Camp for Incoming Female Freshmen students, which was sponsored by The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and Microsoft Research. The course provided incoming CS/SE freshmen girls the opportunity to spend a week to interact with other incoming CS/SE female students and build a sense of community amongst one another. Throughout Ashley’s time at UT Dallas, she has been a strong member of the student body at UT Dallas. Ashley worked as a student mentor and peer advisor during her junior and senior year, and throughout her college career took part in student organizations like Women Who Compute (WWC) and Circle K International. She served as Metropolitan Lieutenant Governor (April 2017 – May 2018), President, and Service Committee Head and Project Shatter Chair for the Circle K International Student Organization. In Women Who Compute (WWC), she served as Vice President of Internal Events (April 2017 – May 2018), Treasurer (December 2016 – April 2017), Marketing Chair (May 2016 – December 2016), and Public Relations Chair (December 2015 – May 2016). Ashley also interned for USAA and for Fidelity Investments as a software engineer.  She completed her undergraduate degree in three years and has started the Fast Track Program for her Master’s Degree in Computer Science. She will be continuing her Masters part-time and will start working full time at USAA in June!

Ashley wrote the short piece below about her experience interning at USAA and how it benefited her as well as helped her develop her skills as a computer scientist. Ashley documented her experience to help other students become interested and excited about internships. Below is her story.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern at USAA in their Plano office. This was the second internship during my college career, and I grew from the experience. Throughout the summer, I was able to gain a lot of valuable knowledge and hands-on experience and was able to utilize many of the technical skills I learned at UT Dallas.

During my internship, we did pair programming, something I had never done before. I was familiar with the concept, but it was my first time participating in it in a work setting. It was great having someone to bounce ideas off of when debugging. We also practiced Agile/Scrum which I think very much helped our productivity. By doing daily standups and involving the whole team, we were able to stay knowledgeable on what the rest of the team was doing and help each other with obstacles we encountered. Throughout my internship, I was able to see the advantages of software engineering practices I had learned about in the classroom.

The training I received at UT Dallas proved to be very beneficial during my internship. In addition to my team coding primarily in Java, with which I have a strong background, but we also used JSON and SQL. Taking programming courses at UT Dallas helped give me a strong foundation for my internship. Despite the fact that the work was not identical to coursework, many of the same principles and ideas could be applied.

Overall, I have no doubt that my internship at USAA helped me grow substantially. Not only did it provide me more the opportunity to develop new technical skills, but It also allowed me to work on and develop my soft skills. My team worked together and orchestrated group demos and at the end of the summer gave a capstone presentation. My internship helped me immeasurably to develop in many ways.

Lastly, Ashley would like to offer some advice for women studying CS or who are in the workforce. “I would say don’t be afraid to ask for help! I remember being embarrassed to ever ask for help because I thought it showed weakness, but I’ve learned that it’s quite the opposite. Being able to know when to ask for help is a great thing. I think it’s important to remember that we all have support systems there to back us up. Our family, friends, and the faculty all want to see us succeed and when things get overwhelming it’s important to remember that. Also, bonus advice, just remember to take a break and have fun every once in a while. Getting involved in things outside of your academics or job is a great way to make sure you don’t burn out, and it gives you the opportunity to meet new people and become a more developed and well-rounded person.”

Click here to read about Dhruva Pendharkar’s internship Uber Technologies.


The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,400 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,000 master’s students, 150 Ph.D. students,  53 tenure-track faculty members and 38 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2017. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.




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