Where are you working and what do you do there?
I work at Promega Corporation in Fitchburg, WI (a suburb of Madison). My title is Lead Software Developer and I primarily deal with Microsoft .NET development for our website and integrating systems. I work on the Web Team, which serves the company by both improving the content and user experience of our website, and improving the underlying functionality and performance.
What is your typical work day like?
Although Promega allows flexible work schedules, I typically get to work between 7 and 7:30 AM to begin work. Throughout my day, I work on most aspects of software and web development projects: interacting with business stakeholders to gather requirements, collaborating with peers to design solutions, and implementing and testing those solutions. I am also part of a larger development team that is responsible for a weekly rolling on call schedule. Periodically, I will be "on call," which means that I triage and attempt to resolve any urgent website-related issues. I typically take an hour or an hour and a half for lunch, and then head home around 4:30 or 5 PM.
What path did you take to your current career, were there other jobs along the way?
I came to UW - Eau Claire as a Music Performance major. I quickly discovered that, although I wanted music to remain important in my life, I did not want to rely on it for my livelihood. After a semester, I changed my major to Computer Science and never looked back. During the summer after my third year of college, I got an internship with Target Corporation in Minneapolis, MN. There, I was able to work more closely with real business users and understand how I could directly benefit a company. The following summer, I took an internship at a small technology consulting company in Madison, WI: Inacom Information Systems. I was quickly given several projects for which I was responsible. I needed to work directly with external clients and provide solutions to their problems using custom software development. I loved this kind of problem solving, and, following my final semester of college, went to work for Inacom full time. Over time at Inacom, however, I found myself spending less time with technology and more time doing management, sales, and business logistics. For me, the pleasure I get from work is interacting with the technology so I needed to make a change. In June of 2010 I started working at Promega, where I have been ever since.
How did your liberal arts education at UW-Eau Claire help prepare you for your career?
Although I did not realize it at the time, enrolling in a liberal arts-based college had a huge impact on my happiness in my career path thus far. Had I gone to a college that did not force me to broaden my horizons and take courses that were outside my preferred discipline, I may never have discovered my passion for computer science. Looking back, I'm so thankful for that experience.
Is there something more you wish you would have done in college to prepare for your career?
No, not really. I consider myself very lucky; I spent the majority of my studies working on computer science with my peers in that area, but still kept strong ties to another passion of mine: music. All through college I sang in at least one choir every semester.
What advice do you have for UW-Eau Claire students to become successful in their own careers?
If there's any advice I can give a student looking to be successful in their career, it's to ensure that your college years are filled with rich experiences that go beyond your area of focus. That will better prepare you for "the rest of your life" when you will be forced to balance your career with other things you love.