Year of Graduation: 2013
Minor(s): Computer Science
Current Position: Software Developer, ImageTrend, Inc.
Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
I am a Software Developer at ImageTrend, Inc. We currently have about 150 employees and are located in Lakeville, MN. The company runs a few data collection projects; mine is working on ambulance software that will be used by paramedics to collect patient information. This gets sent to hospitals as well as a national database that is used by researchers.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
I went to the Private Colleges Job & Internship Fair when I was a sophomore. I had maybe half a dozen companies I was planning on talking to, which I did in the first couple hours. I didn't have a ride home until the end of the day, so I just went around and talked to people at random booths that had internships. One of those was ImageTrend and I wound up interviewing and getting an internship offer from them the next week. After a second internship at a different company, I returned to ImageTrend full time after graduation. I've been here for about a year and a half.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
Firstly, if you're not interested in my career, maybe you should be. People from all sorts of academic backgrounds turn to software development as a career - Math, Physics, Chemistry, even English or History. Job prospects are great. Employers are just looking for enthusiasm and a proven ability to learn quickly and solve problems analytically. There are several great intro-level courses from the Computer Science department that just might get you hooked. That's exactly what happened to me; I was a Math major who didn't write any code until sophomore year at SJU.
For those who are already interested in software development, take all the CS courses you can. They'll lay the foundation of how to think about computers. They don't, however, give you much experience with 'real world' code. One great way of getting that valuable experience is to contribute to an open source project. There are thousands out there, just pick one off GitHub and chip in a little.
What skills are important in your field?
People skills are arguably more important than technical skills. People who are tough to get along with are usually harmful to their teams, independent of how well they write code. People who can get their team to gel are invaluable. From the technical side, an ability to learn quickly is paramount. This makes onboarding easier, but more importantly it means you won't make the same mistake twice - which means you'll be constantly improving.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
In terms of finding my job, my student employment position at the Career Center was the most helpful bar none. I learned what a resume was supposed to look like, how to interview well, even when recruiters would be on campus. There's no better way of setting yourself up for having a good job after graduation. Walk down right now and see if they have any openings.
In terms of career preparation, I was on the programming contest team senior year, which I thought was helpful and should've done earlier. It's a good way to get some experience writing code with other people.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
I love the fact that if I see something wrong, I can just jump in and fill that hole. Working at a smaller company gives me the flexibility to do that. I still just love writing code, too. Every day, I'm presented with some kind of problem that I have to solve - sometimes it stretches me a bit and I have to discuss with a coworker or search the internet or draw a diagram on a whiteboard.