Starting Out At A Startup

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first started my job this summer. At a virtual reality startup, I knew I would be working with cool technology. At a company with 8 employees, I hoped that I would like everyone and that I would get to know them all. After a month, I feel like it’s safe to say that those things have happened, along with some other pleasant surprises:

  • Kenneth, the software engineer who helps me with everything, loves
    Rupee, also known as Ruper Duper or Rupert P. Dupert, Esquire. Prone to flopping over for belly rubs during daily standup meetings.

    Broadway musicals!

  • Sometimes, when I make a bad pun, someone in a VR headset will “boo” me when I didn’t even know they were listening! It’s nice to be appreciated.
  • Kenneth will occasionally make even worse puns than I do…somehow.
  • 2012 gamer slang is bandied about. Mike, the chief product officer and a 34-year-old man, said the following phrase verbatim: “I’m gonna school all you noobs!”
  • RUPEE!!!!!

At the beginning of my internship, I was worried that I would be super unhelpful and unable to accomplish anything on my own. For about the first two weeks, that was true, but that seems to be a universal intern experience–after all, since when are concepts we learn in class applicable to real life? Eventually, after trying to absorb a firehose of information and then stumbling around in the dark for a while, I was able to make a functional button in an augmented reality app for an iPad! Yes, I may have pieced it together by copying working bits and pieces from other parts of the app, and sure, it may have taken me several hours while someone like Kenneth could have done it in 20 minutes, but the important part is that I figured it out on my own! It was a very insignificant feature if I’m being honest, but it gave me the confidence to tackle other, larger problems, and it convinced me that I actually am learning things by cluelessly bumbling around, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time.

Here’s another picture of Rupee, because he’s wonderful. When I asked Mike if I could post about him, he told Rupee “You’re gonna be a blog dog!!”

There are downsides to being able to work independently, though. Now that I don’t have to ask Kenneth for help every 30 seconds,  I can listen to music while I work. This is usually good, except when I listen to Adele and I feel like I need to be staring dramatically out a window, soulfully gazing into the distance as a single tear falls down my cheek, instead of fixing a bug in my code. Nevertheless, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

My Future in France

I’m gonna be honest—France isn’t real to me yet.

Right now, I’m in the middle of a different new and transformative experience: I’m part of the Duke Technology Scholars program, which consists of about 20 women living in Durham attempting to navigate our tech internships together. For me, it’s my first time living in an apartment. It’s my first time having a 9 to 5 job, my first time working at a startup. My first time having to buy groceries and cook for all of my meals, instead of relying on the comforting constancy of a dining hall. Perhaps the strangest part is having to decide what to do with all of my free time, for once not taken up by innumerable homework assignments.


Adult life may be a lot to process sometimes, but at least my plants add some familiarity to the apartment. That’s why we’ve forgiven them for taking up the whole windowsill.
In the midst of adjusting to all this, Georgia Tech Lorraine has seemed like a distant dream, something to be eagerly anticipated but not considered deeply, an experience to anxiously await but not to plan, not quite yet. I’ve spent the past several months applying for the program, filling out forms, stressing about my visa appointment, et cetera—but even with all this preparation, it still hasn’t hit me that I’m going to be spending four months in Europe, immersed in different languages and cultures, road tripping (train tripping?) between countries, and taking a course load that’s half humanities classes. My brain does not compute these things.


Truthfully, I probably won’t fully comprehend any of this until I’ve already been living in Metz for at least a week. I do know, however, that even if the idea of GTL seems far away right now, that it’s going to be incredible. I’m going to explore cities I’ve never seen before, have experiences I could never imagine, meet new friends, try new foods, and so much more that I can’t anticipate. My time will be filled with a share of exciting triumphs, epic fails, and mundane routine in between, but all of it will be new, and all of it will teach me new things about myself and about the world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I can’t wait to make the most of it.


This is a sketch of my favorite spot in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. I’m really excited to find and draw places that I love in Europe as well!
You can expect to read detailed accounts of the amusing escapades, exciting experiences, and moments both high and low that I’ll encounter in Europe! There will certainly be reviews about restaurants and art; honestly, in that department, I’ll probably love everything, but what I lack in objectivity I’ll make up for in enthusiasm. I’ll also be sure to post photos and sketches of anything from the beautiful French countryside and architecture to random flowers and pigeons–I intend to bring my DSLR and pocket sketchbook just about everywhere I go. I can’t wait to relay my takes on my travels! Au revoir et à bientôt!

Hello world!

Hello all! My name is Maddie and I’m a junior at Duke University studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. When I’m at Duke, I love to pursue my passions in virtual reality, musical theater, improv comedy, visual art, and whatever other awesome things strike my fancy. As much as I love being in Durham, I am beyond excited—some might even say stoked—to be living, learning, and with any luck petting dogs in France this fall.

Let it be known that Peaches came and sat in my lap of her own accord.

I can’t wait to regale you with tales of food, friends, and fun, awe you with pictures of art and architecture, and extensively exhibit my affinity for alliteration. À plus tard! (Yes, I did get that from Duolingo!)