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CSpotlight: Mixing CS and Management

Why did you choose to study computer science specifically at the University of Minnesota?

The reason I initially chose to consider the University of Minnesota is because they have one of the best computer science departments in the midwest. I knew I liked computer science going into college, but I wasn’t 100% certain that it was going to work out. After learning about all of the other amazing programs that the U of M offers I knew that if I went to this school I would find something that would work out. 

How did you become interested in computer science? How do you plan to incorporate your management minor into computer science?

I became interested in Computer Science when I took AP Computer Science in highschool. The teacher of the class didn’t have a background in Computer Science, so I ended up having to do a lot of independent research to learn what I needed to know for the class. While that was difficult at times, it also taught me how to teach myself which is a very important skill. It was one of the first times in school that I enjoyed spending time reading resources outside of class to learn, so I felt like I found what it was that I wanted to keep learning. 

I plan to incorporate management into computer science by pursuing a project manager role. I love to program, but I also really enjoy working with people. Over last summer I taught the English language to people from around the world using an online tutoring resource, and I found it to be an extremely rewarding experience. After teaching over 10 students from all around the world I realized that I am good at working with people from diverse backgrounds which is important for a manager in any field. I’ve also heard from people working in the software development industry that a lot of managers don’t have the technical knowledge required to fully grasp the technology they are developing and the time/resources that members of their team need. I think that my education and relevant work experience would help me be successful in a position like that. 

How did you earn the software developer position with Sentryware LLC? What kind of work did you do?

I got this position through one of my roommates who now has a full time position with the company developing their sparkbird application. I mostly did web development for them, but in all honesty it was more of a learning experience than anything, which they were totally ok with. I was a volunteer on the project, so they allowed me to spend most of my time learning from the more experienced developers that had been with the project for a while. I learned a lot about internet programming, the process of developing commercial software, and project organization. By the end of the summer I was able to contribute code to their platform and made my first pull request to software being used by others.

What are you looking forward to most about your upcoming position at Turnberry Solutions Crew Digital Innovation department? How has your academic background prepared you for this position?

I am really looking forward to getting my first client assignment. I am going to be a software engineer for the company, and they do IT consulting so I will be doing different projects for different companies. That’s what excites me most about working for this company, each project I am a part of will be different from the last. I think my academic background has prepared me for this position because I will be involved in both the business planning and the software development. My management minor has required me to take a lot of business classes, so pairing that with computer science is perfect for a position like this. 

What are some achievements that you have accomplished outside of academics?

I have learned outside of school in these short four years. For starters, I have learned to play guitar, bass, piano and write original music. I am now a part of two musical groups. One is a 5 piece rock band called ‘scatter’ and the other is a post rock duo called ‘dreamland’. Neither have played any shows or released any music, but that will be changing quite soon. I have also learned how to skateboard and have gotten to be pretty good. There is a really incredible local skate scene that has been steadily growing as the sport has become more popular. I have learned a lot about skateboarding and myself through friends I have made from skating at local parks and street spots. 

I also learned how to practice yoga and meditation. I took a class called HRIR 3201: A Mindfulness Approach to Stress Management that taught a lot of important skills that I have continued to practice since taking the class. After dealing with the stress of being a college student during a pandemic this class was something I really needed, and I think its lessons can and will benefit a lot of people as meditation, yoga and mindfulness continue to grow. 

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Go to office hours. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling. TA’s have helped me through so many difficult concepts and assignments that I was having a tough time understanding. They have all taken the class before so they have a really good idea of what students struggle with, why that is the case, and how to help them understand the material. I would also advise starting assignments early. You will almost certainly run into unforeseen issues, and having time to do research or seek help will not only help your grade, but it will also help you better understand what the assignment is teaching you. 

What are your plans after graduation?

Aside from getting ready to start working at Turnberry, I hope to finish recording and finally release some music. One of my bands has been working towards an album since freshman year so it would be nice to wrap that up. We are all really busy and total perfectionists so naturally it's taken a while. I also plan on publishing a website for the band that I’ve been developing. I’m just waiting to put it on the internet until we have music to promote.