Skip to Content
Alumni connection

STEM, Students, and

Alumna brings MIT externs to work at the musician’s organizations.
April 26, 2016

Rumors of sitting in on classes at MIT undetected by students are true, according to Lilly Kam ’04, who works at the musician’s tech company “He’s always admired MIT and its culture—he’s a big tech geek,” Kam says.

Kam first met while she was working as product manager for a social-media company in China. In 2012, when he headlined a concert in Beijing as part of the U.S. State Department’s 100,000 Strong Initiative, Kam got the chance to connect with him. “After I told him about my experiences, he said, ‘Oh, you should come work for me,’” she remembers.

After moving to Los Angeles, Kam began working at the musician’s foundation, which aims to “transform lives through education, inspiration and opportunity.” She worked to develop FIRST Robotics teams in East L.A., where he grew up. “We spent a lot of time building a strategy to successfully put together these teams, focusing on low-income areas,” she says. Kam and helped create 15 new FIRST teams, providing funding, resources, and guidance. and Lilly Kam ’04 (center) at a FIRST Robotics event with enthusiasts including professor emeritus Woodie ­Flowers ’68, ME ’71, PhD ’73 (far right).­

These days, Kam works for as a product manager while still serving as STEM advisor for the foundation. She also works with the MIT Alumni Association Student/Alumni Externship Program—a good way to fit MIT activities into her busy life in Los Angeles. In China, she had been vice president of the MIT Club of Beijing and an educational counselor. “I wanted to give back, so I began researching the extern program,” she says. Kam became a sponsor for externs in 2015, hosting five at the foundation. “The externs learned what it’s like to run a nonprofit, started FIRST teams for underserved communities, and got to visit a lot of the schools and shadow some of the teachers and coaches,” she says. “They learned about some of the struggles that inner-city schools face, especially when it comes to increasing STEM opportunities for students.”

This year, Kam supervised 10 externs from MIT. Six worked with the foundation, their positions funded by grants from the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center. Four worked for “The students working for helped develop apps for a wearable device. I’m challenging them to demo their apps to Will,” she says. Kam says often interacts with the externs, providing advice and encouragement.

Kam loves the experience of working with externs. “I’m always looking for more ways to expose MIT students to unique opportunities,” she says.

Want to work with MIT externs in your organization? Alumni are invited to become hosts and bring undergraduate and graduate students into their workplaces in January for one to four weeks. Alumni can learn more about the program and submit an application proposing externship positions beginning in July. Students, who apply in September, are matched to these job opportunities. Learn more online:

Keep Reading

Most Popular

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.

Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.

Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.

AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.

OpenAI teases an amazing new generative video model called Sora

The firm is sharing Sora with a small group of safety testers but the rest of us will have to wait to learn more.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.