Around The Yard: Jack Connolly

Returning to for a fourth season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Jack Connolly
November 29, 2017

As a Harvard student, one thing I have never been without is opportunities. Whether it be the chance to hear Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, speak about race relations at the Institute of Politics, or the ability to spend time around so many professors who are pioneers in their areas of research, the wealth of opportunities at Harvard never ceases to amaze me. 

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to take advantage of such an opportunity and utilized the fantastic career services group to help secure an internship for me near my hometown of Jupiter, Florida. Coming out of my freshman year, I was very undecided about what I wanted to study, stuck between mechanical engineering and computer science. Although I had only recently started studying computer science and had only taken CS50 at Harvard, the connections made available through Harvard allowed me to explore this new field due to my internship experience within the IT department of NextEra Energy. 

Throughout an awesome summer, I was able to learn PHP, Git, Java, and Maven, while applying and honing nearly all of the skills I had acquired during CS50. Beyond just technical skills, NextEra also focused on developing well-rounded interns, showing us the entire company and truly providing a sense of how a global company operates. An even more eye-opening experience was getting to meet and talk with the CEO, Jim Robo, who received both his Bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Harvard. Because of the Harvard connection, three MBA interns and I were able to have a breakfast conversation with Mr. Robo on topics ranging from the intricacies of global expansion to the efforts to provide maternity and paternity leave. Beyond this, NextEra strived to cultivate our interpersonal and communication skills, both vital in any job setting. I was assigned a major project to work on throughout the internship, which culminated in a final presentation in front of upper level management. 

Ultimately, my time with NextEra proved to be an invaluable experience; one that essentially convinced me to declare Computer Science at the beginning of this month. Without the opportunities provided by this great school, I may never have discovered my passion for programming. If there had been more pressure to declare a concentration earlier, I may have gone all in with mechanical engineering before exploring other options. Either way, the boundless opportunities and generous support offered at Harvard have made my time here exceptionally rewarding, allowing me to balance volleyball and demanding classes. I’m excited for the rest of my Crimson career and can’t wait to see what opportunity comes next.