BS computer science and English, '07
Occupation: Independent software developer, manager, architect
Current residence: Portola Valley, CA
Community activities: Contributes to fundraising efforts at the local YMCA.
When and how did you choose your major?
I chose my majors freshman year. It was a natural extension of what I liked to do: read, write and play with computers. When I looked at the requirements and figured out it was possible to do both I didn't look back.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was an active member in my fraternity (Delta Kappa Epsilon) and also a TA for beginning level computer science courses. From my fraternity, I gained a large group of lifelong friends and the opportunity to do any number of social activities at the drop of the hat. It really kept college from being an academic-only experience. It taught me how to interact with people who had completely different interests than mine, which has been valuable in the workplace. My TA experience was useful for learning how to teach people a new skill. This again has been useful in the business world where it is necessary to teach less experienced developers how to accomplish something.
What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?
The career center was extremely useful for helping me with my resume as well as putting me in contact with alumni. I also just talked to professors about possible paths after college or side projects I could work on.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I started working at a web startup in San Diego immediately after graduating. I spent at least five months applying for jobs and considering offers while I was still in school and that one was the most tantalizing to me. I really wanted to stop learning and start applying so this was the best move for me.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
Now I build web and mobile applications with teams of software developers. Sometimes I lead and manage the team, other times I am just an individual contributor. I chose this career because I have always enjoyed problem solving and creating new things. In addition, the money is pretty good and I think there will be a lot of opportunity in the field moving forward.
How do you balance your work and professional life?
At first I didn't. I worked all the time and didn't have much of a personal life. There might be something to be said for this approach to get going really fast in the professional world, but in the end for me it didn't work out that well. When I was neglecting my personal life I was also neglecting myself, so when I quit my first job after two and a half years I had no idea what to do with myself. I think if I had balanced my life more appropriately it would not have been as difficult. Now I make sure that I don't work more than 50 hours a week, and I also make sure that I spend time hanging out with and talking to friends and family.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Running my own software development and product firm.
How are you still connected with the University?
I attend alumni events in my area.
What advice do you have for current students?
Study and work on what you love to do, because a lot of your life will be spent working and if you enjoy it, life will be good.