Ryan Tillotson

Year of Graduation: 2014

Major: Computer Science

Current Position: Software Engineer, Google, New York, NY

Please provide a brief description of your current position and where you are working.

I am a Software Engineer on the Google Education team. I build software that helps make teaching easier for instructors and learning easier for students. 

What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?

A very windy, long road. I originally started at Saint John’s University in fall 2008 intending to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Not so quickly, I realized that accounting was not my thing, so I transferred to Saint Cloud State University and experimented with some different majors. After finding computer science, I switched back and graduated from SJU in 2014. I spent about a year consulting in Iowa and then got my job offer from Google.

What are the most satisfying and challenging parts of your job?

Definitely keeping current and learning new things is the most satisfying part of my work. Even within Google, we constantly have new technology springing up and it can be a challenge to keep up with it while also solving real-world problems.

What skills are important in your field?

Communication, perseverance, and patience.

How has your CSB/SJU liberal arts education been beneficial to your career?

Having a broad background gives me a bigger base of experience to draw connections. This is especially important when forming ideas to solutions or brainstorming with other people. It has also made me a halfway decent communicator and improved my critical thinking skills.

Are there particular classes you would recommend for students wanting to pursue a career in Software engineering?

Most of my favorite courses were core parts of the Computer Science curriculum, but one that stands out is a one-off course that Dr. Herzfeld arranged for me. We talked about the gender imbalance in computing and I wrote a few papers. The course was helpful for me at the time; it is even more so as conversations around diversity in Computer Science have become more common.

What activities/experiences were you involved with at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) that have been helpful in your career?

The friends I met during my time at SJU have profoundly impacted who I am as a person. The experiences I had with people at SJU helped make me who I am today. 

What advice would you have for students who are interested in working as a Software Engineer?

Have patience, try things out, learn from your mistakes, and, maybe most importantly, learn from other peoples' mistakes. There are a large number of very good books out there.

What advice do you have for students wanting to work for a technology firm such as Google?

 I don't have much advice besides working hard and putting yourself out there.



(May 2018)