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CSpotlight: Starting Your Own Club and Workplace

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in computer science specifically at the University of Minnesota?

The first thing that attracted me was the competitiveness of the program at the University of Minnesota. It is a very renowned program. Another aspect was that most of my family are University of Minnesota alumni, so I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

How did you become interested in computer science? What are your specific interests within the field?

I was interested in computer science at a young age. But around high school, I got involved in a web design class. I was fortunate to be able to TA for that class. That class was what pulled me to the major. I love that you can start from an empty file and create something useful in a reasonable amount of time.  That is an aspect of computer science I really enjoy.

 I'm mainly focusing on software engineering and machine learning. I have an interest in both of these subjects and am trying to bring them together in any way I can.

Tell us more about your internship experiences.

I had a couple of internships with Optum as a back-end software engineer. It's been a really great opportunity for me to gain real world experience. I had the chance to be in two different teams that are doing two completely different things. I had exposure to a lot of new tools and new approaches to deal with different problems. It was really interesting to be able to look at them from my perspective and compare it to how the team viewed the problem and worked on solving them. I was really able to learn from my experience as a whole. 

Are you involved in any student groups? What inspired you to get involved? 

I am the one of the co-founders and the vice president for a computer science club called GopherHack, which focuses on capture-the-flag competitions and cyber security concepts. It is a relatively new club that is part of the CSE department. We were inspired to start the club because my friend and I are interested in CTFs and we realized that there aren’t any clubs at the University of Minnesota that focus on that, so we started our own club.

What do you hope to contribute to the computer science community at the University?

I would like to give back to the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. The University of Minnesota offers a lot of opportunities and research is one of them. I've been working closely with some faculty members to get started doing research as part of my master’s degree. Hopefully, that would allow me to add something to the Department. 

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Get involved with as many clubs as possible. It is a great way to meet other people that have the same interests as you. Also, try as many different classes as you can. Don't stay with the subjects that you feel comfortable doing. Trying a variety of courses is a great way to broaden your horizons and learn a great deal. It allows you to see what you can do and test your abilities.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I am planning on starting in the workplace. But I'm also interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science. I am still weighing my options and deciding on what would be best for me.