How did you decide on your major?
I grew up playing video games like League of Legends, Minecraft, and various Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs), which means as a kid I spent a lot of time on computers. I also really liked the idea of building and creating things - when I was deciding what to study, computer science would have given me a way to explore that interest, and moreover build things with a really positive impact. It also would have opened doors into a really great career with a lot of financial security, so it definitely felt like something I should try out.
Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?
I really enjoyed taking Data Structures. It was really rigorous and sometimes stressful, but I learned so much in the process that it ended up being one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. It solidified my passion for Computer Science, and really cemented in my mind the fact that I like being intellectually stimulated and solving difficult problems.
What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?
My software engineering internship at Microsoft was an absolutely amazing experience. I spent the summer after sophomore year working on an accessibility tool that would convert activation key images to text for people with visual impairments or other conditions that make viewing images difficult. It was really rewarding - it gave me a taste of what I am working towards in my career, and what the long nights studying and working on projects were building to, and taught me what it was really like to work on a product in a team in the industry. I can easily say one of the most rewarding moments of my life was presenting my final project, and knowing that something that I built was going to be used by millions of people to make their experience on the internet better.
What are your plans following graduation?
I'm not sure yet! There are a lot of opportunities available all over for CS students after they graduate, but my main priorities are being near my family and friends, making enough money to live comfortably and support my loved ones, and doing meaningful work that interests me and has a positive impact on its consumers. Maybe I'll be in NYC, maybe I'll be in the Bay Area, or back in Seattle, but as long as I'm doing good work and surrounded by the people I care about, I can't wait.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
I definitely think that without the support of the CS community here on campus, I wouldn't have been as prepared for my career as I am now. The CAVE is a great place to learn how to network, create a resume, get an internship, learn outside of the classroom, and honestly just make friends with common interests who you can study for classes with. There are so many opportunities that come from being surrounded by other highly motivated individuals, and there's always pizza.