Student Spotlight Series

Student Spotlight: Kody Thach

This week, we had an inspiring conversation with Kody Thach, the winner of the Rising Coding Star competition from Rapid7, about how he felt the competition was an opportunity to prove his skills to himself and others.

The Rising Coding Star competition was about compiling your coding work and sharing why you would like to work at Rapid7.

For Kody’s $2,000 winning scholarship submission, he created a pdf of his work and explanation including his Github and Bitbucket repo.

The competition was created by Rapid7, a cybersecurity company that provides analytics solutions for security and Information Technologies (IT) operations.

Tuan: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Kody: My name is Kody Thach and I’m a computer science major here at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I’m currently a senior graduating in the Fall of 2019, and I’ve always loved to express my creativity with writing software. I started getting involved with programming since senior year of high school, where I took a class on Java. It was really hard to grasp at first, but once I spent enough time with it, something just clicked and I knew that this is the type of work I’d want to dedicate my time to.

Tuan: What feeling(s) did you have when you found out you were the winner of the Rising Coding Star Challenge?

Kody: When I found out I won the challenge, I was really surprised. In the past, I’ve applied to other scholarships without hearing back from most, and so to shoot my shot at another scholarship, this result wasn’t really something I was expecting at all.

“Whether you win or not, the effort you put into creating something will help you make it far in your career. “

Tuan: What inspired you for your submission?

Kody: I really wanted to show others what I’m capable of creating. While that reason may be shallow, there’s a lot that I want to prove to myself and others. Personally, I’ve always felt short of confidence in what I can do, so I’m actively trying to do more to rid that insecurity. Additionally, I’ve been interested in exploring cybersecurity for a while now, so I figured I’d do my best to try and impress Rapid7 and hear what kind of feedback I’d get for projects they’re open to hearing about.

Tuan: What do you think makes your submission stand out? Can you share what went through your mind as you worked on the submission?

I think what makes my submission stand out is the result that occurred from creating these projects. The work I do is often to support or entertain a community related to that project in some way or to give inspiration to other users to create something of their own. So when working on this submission, I tried to showcase projects that have gained a large number of users such as my CoinMarketBot, and a memory-modification patcher that may impress Rapid7 which would be my AstralWorld Patcher.

Tuan: What did you learn throughout the submission process — about yourself, your inspiration, the community or the industry?

Throughout the submission process, I’ve come to realize that my inspiration in my other hobbies is what really kept me motivated to code outside of school. While I could just be solving problems on HackerRank to improve my craft, it’s not as fun as actively working to create something meaningful out of the work I’m doing. The thrill of seeing these project ideas come to life has pushed me to do more and to learn about things that not even my classes teach.

Tuan: What did you learn about the company that created the scholarship and the meaning behind it?

What I learned from Rapid7 was that they were a cybersecurity company that aimed to help customers understand and secure these vulnerabilities that lie within their digital services. They provide many tools for customers to assess areas in their platform, such as Metasploit which I’ve actually used before. I think in this day and age, security is really important for digital platforms to take off. As we start to rely on technology more often, the data we provide technology becomes more sensitive to foreign hackers. If some particular data gets in the hands of the wrong person, such a person could exploit that information, which I’m sure no one wants.

Tuan: Why do you think it is important to have alternative scholarships like action-based scholarships in your community?

I believe having action-based scholarships allow for students to better represent their abilities on projects they’ve accomplished or will accomplish for the scholarship involving their area of expertise as opposed to writing some essay to sway the person giving out the scholarship. By having students submit their work, I believe the person giving out the scholarship can have a better understanding of how committed the student is with their education, learning, or even what kind of individual they are.

Tuan: With your hard work, talents and skills how are you looking to create a better future?

Ideally, I’d like to lend a hand in helping others with the software I write. Whether it be for entertainment, convenience, or for productivity, I hope that my skills can provide users with some kind of good in their lives.

Tuan: What are two pieces of advice you have for future students who are looking to participate in an action-based scholarship?

For future students, definitely, give action-based scholarships a shot. Whether you win or not, the effort you put into creating something will help you make it far in your career. Even if you do or don’t succeed in time, continue to work on the project. You’ll have something to show to a future employer, or for others, create a potential startup out of your work.

Tuan: If you could have lunch with any person in this world, who would it be and why?

This might be unusual, but I’d like to have lunch with Joji. I’m big on music and he happens to be one of my favorite artists.

Learn more about ScholarJet’s skill-based scholarships here. Ready to find a competition to join? View all current competitions here.