Tom Hart

Tom Hart

Tom Hart

Majors: Hispanic Studies, Communication

Year of Graduation: 2014

Additional Education: Prime Digital Academy Bootcamp

Current Position: Software Engineer at Revel Health


Provide a brief description of your current position and what your work entails. 

I’m currently a Software Engineer at Revel Health. I work on the development of Voice XML applications, and other projects as needed. My work entails constantly learning and orienting to changing tools and contexts.

How did you decide on your majors and career path?

I decided to be a Hispanic Studies major after a conversation with Professor Corey Shouse regarding my interest/aptitude in Spanish. He was probably lying to me about the aptitude part but I took the bait J. My career path has been a winding road based on evolving interests and perspectives. I’m fascinated by the way the tools we use to communicate, such as verbal English or Spanish, shape our realities and this interest continues as I grow as a software engineer.

What path did you take to your current position?

In 2017, I stepped away from my role as the Digital Architect at FOOD BUILDING in Northeast Minneapolis to do freelance web design and video production. I found I don’t relish the boom/bust cycle of freelancing so I attended Prime Digital Academy’s Bootcamp for Full Stack Web Development, and shortly after completing that program, I bumped into the CEO of Revel at a coffee shop. We struck up a conversation and about two months later I started here as a software engineer. 

What is the most satisfying part of your job? 

We have a fridge full of La Croix! Well that and as I’m still getting up to speed with the team at Revel, I am given time to learn development tools and concepts which will benefit both me and Revel in the short, to mid, to long term. Getting paid to learn and get better at software engineering and problem solving is a satisfying place to be right now.

What skills are most important to your work?

  • Google-Fu. The ability to search out tutorials and documentation is huge. 
  • Taking notes to try and keep track of the million moving pieces here and how/when/why those pieces relate to one another. 
  • Prioritization and listing of tasks; being able to drink from the firehose and continue moving forward, systematically. 
  • Meditation:  most days I take a 10-minute break during the afternoon and find a quiet spot to do a guided meditation (Calm app). Helps me settle out the swirling code in my brain. I can also now levitate, so that’s a perk.

How have your foreign language skills been beneficial in your career path?

Occasionally I will have direct applications where speaking Spanish or understanding Spanish has helped me perform a specific business task. In general, I’ve found the experience of learning Spanish to be somewhat similar in its challenges, frustrations, and rewards to getting started as a software engineer.

In my experience there is also a fair amount of just feeling stupid or out of my depth when learning new languages. While that experience is rarely comfortable, it does seem to be part of learning, and thus part of my daily life; so, I’m grateful to have had practice developing patience and resilience from being a Hispanic Studies major.

What are some activities and experiences you had at CSB/SJU that helped you with your career?

Learning to hustle, work with ambiguity, and be self-directed as part of the ETL (Extending the Link) team was a formative experience. In general I’m grateful to have had a dedicated few years to learn how to learn,  create some positive habits around putting in the work, and building relationships with other motivated and curious individuals.

What advice do you have for CSB/SJU students in general?

Take a hard look at your employability. I highly value having a liberal arts background, AND I’m fortunate to have had the post-graduation social connections and financial opportunity (read: time and savings) to shift my career into software engineering. If you are nearing graduation and are uncertain about job prospects, I recommend dipping your toes into software development. There are great tutorials and resources available online for those motivated to seek them out and stick with them.

And always be learning. Graduation is just the beginning. Good luck!

(April 2018)