Part 3: The Sky Has No Limit

Part 3: The Sky Has No Limit

We follow Daniel’s intern journey at WeFi…

Daniel Garza (20) is the very first recipient of the Nicholas Feinstein Technology Internship Scholarship – awarded annually to one of the University of Northern Colorado’s top business and technology students. 

Daniel touched down in Cape Town at the beginning of June for two months, to work (and learn) alongside the team at our Stellenbosch-based WeFi Innovation Hub. 

One month in, we continue to get to know him better, track his work experience at WeFi and adventure with him around the Cape. Most importantly, we also discover what he’s been learning about himself…

What were some of your preconceptions about South Africa (or Africa, in general) before you arrived? Did these expectations align with what you’ve experienced so far?

Before arriving in South Africa, one of my biggest preconceptions was that the food here would be drastically different from what I’m used to in the United States. While I’ve had the opportunity to try some unique and delicious local dishes, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the food options are quite familiar to me. 

I was also unsure about what the gym culture would be like here. I’m passionate about powerlifting and bodybuilding, so I was curious. From what I have experienced, the gym culture in South Africa is quite similar to the States, which has made it easy to maintain my fitness routine. One thing I did learn, however, is that cycling is very popular here.

What initially drew you to your field of study? What specific aspects of it excite you the most? As you delve deeper into your education, are there any areas you’d like to specialise in?

I was initially drawn to software engineering during my first experience with coding in eighth grade. For my graduation project, I created a simple choose-your-own-adventure game in Python. That experience sparked a passion for technology and programming, and I knew then that this was the field I wanted to pursue. 

I have always seen computer programming as something akin to magic. It enables us to achieve things that aren’t possible solely by human effort. Programming opens up a world of possibilities that seem almost infinite. As long as something is quantifiable, it can be programmed. There is always something exciting happening in the world of tech, and it never gets boring.

Adding a math component to my software engineering curriculum came a bit later, after I had already spent a year in university. I’ve always enjoyed math throughout middle and high school, but it was the more advanced courses in college that deepened my appreciation for the subject. The logical structure and problem-solving aspects of mathematics have always intrigued me.

As I navigate through my education journey, I’ve become quite keen on pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics or applied mathematics. I think either of those two options would be awesome to learn more about. On the other hand, if I were to pursue a master’s degree in computer science, I think I would pursue something related to operating systems or computer graphics. Both of these areas offer their own interesting challenges and they are both areas of computer science that I find interesting.

Everyone has a travel bucket list. Tell us about the places you dream of exploring and the types of adventures you’d love to embark on in the future.

My number one travel destination is definitely Japan. I’m fascinated by the culture and history. I would also love to try all the amazing food, from sushi and ramen to unique street foods. Experiencing Japanese culture, visiting temples and seeing the cherry blossom season are all on my list. Also, as a fan of anime and video games, I would love to visit the Akihabara and Shibuya, where there are a ton options for merchandise. 

Another place I would love to visit is South Korea. I think it would be awesome to see the city life of Seoul and explore a place like Gyeongbokgung Palace.

France is also high on my travel bucket list. It would be so cool to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. The countryside and beaches in France look very beautiful as well. The history, art and culture are very appealing to me.

Germany is another country that I would enjoy visiting. I would love to visit Berlin and see the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Munich would be a must-visit while there and visiting the castle that is Neuschwanstein. 

Who are the mentors or role models that inspire you? These could be figures in your field of study, successful business leaders or even personal heroes. What qualities do you admire in them and how do they influence your own goals?

One role model that inspires me is Aaron Swartz, a hero in the tech world. Aaron Swartz was a brilliant computer programmer and an internet activist who strongly believed in internet freedom. He was a passionate advocate for open access to information, believing that knowledge should be freely accessible to all. There is a great documentary on his story called ‘The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.’ I deeply admire Swartz’s values regarding open source information, and they drive me to contribute more to the open source community in the coding and academic world.

Another role model that inspires me is Steve Jobs. His creativity and ability to turn innovative ideas into reality fascinate me. Jobs’ story and career have taught me that anyone can generate world-changing ideas or products, but what truly matters is execution and action. His relentless pursuit of excellence and his vision for integrating technology and design continue to influence my goals and aspirations.

Both Swartz and Jobs embody qualities that I strive to emulate: a commitment to making information accessible, the courage to innovate, and the determination to turn ideas into impactful realities.

Now that you’ve been part of the WeFi family for a month, how do you feel about the organisation and the people you work with? What aspects of the work environment do you enjoy the most? Are there any areas where you’d like to learn more or get involved?

Now that I’ve been part of the WeFi family for a month, I feel very positive about the organisation and the people I work with. The team is supportive and always willing to share their insights when I encounter challenges.

One of the aspects I enjoy most about the work environment at WeFi is the physical space we have in South Africa. The open layout, where all the team members have their desks, creates a more collaborative atmosphere, which I enjoy.

As for areas where I’d like to learn more, I am interested in improving my skills in deploying code more seamlessly. This has been a recent challenge for me and I’m eager to gain a better understanding of the deployment process. Additionally, learning how to seamlessly migrate code from a local instance to production or cloud environment is another key area I want to improve on during my time at WeFi.

We’re excited to see what Daniel continues to learn and accomplish during his time at WeFi. Be sure to check back next week for another update.

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, click here: 

Part 1: From Intern to Innovator

Part 2: A New Way of Life 

Follow Daniel’s journey with us on LinkedIn:

Click here for more about the Nicholas Feinstein Technology Internship Scholarship, and read how one honouring one young man’s legacy has led to a life-changing opportunity for another.

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