BS ('11) computer science (BA psychology)
Occupation: User experience designer
Residence: Madison, WI
Community activities: UXMad, Kanopy Dance Company, Madison Contemporary Vision Dance, Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association, Madison Curling Club, Capital Entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend: Madison, 3-Day Startup Madison.
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
Back when I was looking at schools, I had narrowed my interests down to two main things – computer science and psychology. I was putting schools into those two buckets as well. When I visited the U of R, and talked to the chair of the CS Department, he said to me "Why don't you come here and study both?" The thought had never even occurred to me. The Rochester curriculum made it both possible and encouraged to do so.
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
I've kind of always been interested in the two. People: how they think, what they do, why they do it. Computers: how they work, what they're capable of, how they can make life better. These two majors happened to overlap when I stumbled into the world of Human-Computer Interaction my junior year.
What resources did you use on campus that you would recommend current students use?
There're a lot of highly underrated resources the University has. The Career Center is probably one of the more underutilized ones. Also, do whatever you can to get in contact with and be involved with alumni. That's one thing I really wish I had done more before I graduated.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was an active member of many different clubs and extracurriculars in my time at the University, including ResLife, Security, club sports, and several dance groups. My biggest commitment (and the one I enjoyed the most) has to be the Ballet Performance Group, which really let me explore and grow my love of dance.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
Some of my good mentors were supervisors in ResLife (GHRs, ACs), supervisors at work (in the Security Department), and some former professors (in both CS and Psych). I've kept in touch with them, but I haven't really gone back to them much for advice, as I haven't really needed it. It's been really neat to be able to continue the relationship as more of a peer now that I'm no longer a student.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take this path?
I took a job straight out of college working for a healthcare IT company called Epic here in Madison. I was attracted to Epic due to their culture, the location, and the salary, but also thanks to the recruiting and HR departments, who made it seem like I'd be able to do both UI Design and Software Development, which was a very interesting proposal for me at the time.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I'm currently working with startups and small businesses as a User Experience Designer. It's really what I wanted to do after college, and I found a good way to do so is to work in this space. UX is a really hot topic nowadays, so having the background I do is really helpful and beneficial.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
Having a really solid background in computer science has made me a noticeably better software developer, and having the additional background in psychology makes me an excellent UX Designer. The grad-level classes in HCI I was able to take were priceless in shaping my future.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I'm always working on establishing my career and working on bigger, better, and cooler projects. The more experience I can get and the more awesome products I can build, the better. The biggest thing I want to accomplish is paying off student loans, and to keep building cool stuff.
How you are still connected with the University?
I'm a member of the George Eastman Circle as well as keeping in touch with some of the student groups I was a part of, such as BPG and UR Ballroom. I also conduct interviews for students applying to the University, as well as take part in the Real Reader program. I try to help out with the CS department as much as possible, as well, and I plan to start taking part in their Hack Nights every now and then.
What is your fondest memory of the University?
Climbing to the roof of Spurrier the night of graduation and sharing a few bottles of beer/champagne with my good friend Greg. The fire alarms went off in Towers while we were up there, which was pretty hilarious as well. It was a really nice way to end a college career.
What advice do you have for current students?
Nothing is unattainable or out of your reach. If there's something you want, start working toward it and you can achieve it. Do more than what's required, or what you're doing in class. You aren't getting the full experience if you're just going to class, doing your homework, and taking your tests. There's a lot more to college than the purely academic side.