Week 1 - an Introduction

Hello, blog readers! This is my introductory blog. My name is Alex, and I’m an incoming senior studying a mix of Computer Science, Economics, and Public Policy. I’ll be working at Clarity over the summer.

For some background, Clarity is a small company (around 12 people) tackling three problems at the same time. On the hardware side, government air quality sensors are currently $10,000+ and the size of a shipping container. Clarity has created comparable air quality sensors that are only a few hundred dollars, the size of a brick, solar powered, and communicate data wirelessly to the cloud. On the software and data side, Clarity is creating an accessible way for government workers and ordinary people to access and interpret real-time air quality data. This type of open access is necessary to drive tangible policy change. Finally, on the business development side, Clarity is working on public/private partnerships, which is a unique space that 'tech' companies typically aren't willing to go into.

I wanted to work at Clarity this summer because I saw a unique intersection of possibilities that appealed to me on multiple levels. Having worked at a big company before, I wanted to see what working at a startup would feel like. I’ve been interested in public policy and government for most of my life, so I wanted to understand how the public and private sector could work together. I wanted to use my technical skills to directly communicate ideas to people instead of working on hidden software. I wanted to be exposed to both business and technical decisions.

Most importantly, however, I wanted to work on something purposeful. The summer prior, I worked at PlayStation, and it… sucked. It was fast paced, challenging, high-impact, fun, everything that a ‘tech internship’ was supposed to be. However, it felt incredibly empty, and I quickly became disillusioned with the normal path of working after college.

Since then, I’ve realized that although I’m a technical person, I am fundamentally a humanist first and technologist second. If the technology I’m working on isn’t really helping people and doesn’t resonate with my values, I find it incredibly hard to care. That’s why I was so excited to begin work at Clarity. More than anything else, I wanted to work in a mission-driven culture with people who cared about something bigger than themselves.

So, these were pretty lofty expectations. Fortunately, Clarity has managed to meet them and surprise me in a lot of unexpected ways! I’ve been learning so much from the work, from the culture, and the people. I’ll let you know more next week, since there's a lot to say. See you soon,

Alex

Pictured: our scrappy little office. The small gray thing in front of the soda can is one of the sensor nodes.