Will Swindell ’22

PERIOD. The Menstrual Movement, Portland, OR

This summer, I had the pleasure of working for Period Incorporated, a non-profit located in Portland, Oregon, which focuses on menstrual health equity. As a male, this was an interesting experience for me, and I learned a great deal about some of the issues regarding the lack of universal access to important feminine hygiene products, while also gaining experience in back-end management, inventory flow, and software support. A large part of the work that Period does is providing products to people all over the world, which means physically packing and sending supplies from the headquarters in Portland. When I started working in April, the system for inventory tracking was very poorly managed and may well not have existed. One of my largest projects this summer was to redesign the inventory software to be easier to use and more accurate. In putting this together, I became much more fluent with Excel, and I found a variety of apps which I incorporated to simplify the process. For example, a useful feature of the new system is the ability to scan barcodes with a mobile phone to update inflows and outflows in real time. Another project that I was tasked with was to automate the process of generating shipping labels to the various organizations across the country which we shipped to, which ended up being much more complicated than I imagined and required constant troubleshooting. These two projects greatly helped the efficiency of shipping out products and will save countless hours in the future. These projects and others were also an incredible way to gain experience and to directly apply the skills I have learned through my coursework at Williams.

While I was already fairly certain of my decision to major in computer science, my experiences this summer completely reinforced my desire to pursue a CS major. I really enjoyed using hard skills to solve real problems and I intend to go further with this, not only in the classroom, but in my career as well. I hadn’t realized how directly applicable programming skills were in the workplace, and I was able to add great value even after only three CS classes at Williams. This experience also opened my eyes to a potential career in supply chain management, as I gained a wealth of experience in product management and have a better understanding of how distribution systems operate in organizations worldwide.

Going into this summer, I would not have expected to work at an organization for menstrual health, but I am so incredibly happy to have had this internship at Period, and I am very thankful to the Estate of Bruce C. Davey for providing me with this grant. With the strange format of this summer, finding an internship was lucky in itself, but thanks to the incredible generosity of the Williams alumni sponsors, I was fortunate to have found a rewarding experience to help develop my skills and professional career. As I continue to navigate through my post-collegiate life, I will certainly look back on this summer fondly.