What does the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag mean to you?
It's always bothered me when people ask what my major is or where I work and seem really surprised. There are so many stigmas surrounding programmers (for example, Doritos and Mountain Dew) that are just outdated and untrue. In my personal experience, the software development environment loves diversity, both in terms of people and ideas. It really is the key to success.
Why did you choose engineering at CU Boulder?
I love Colorado and I love Boulder so there was really no question when picking CU Boulder for my university experience. As for computer science as my major, my mom graduated from CU with a BS in somputer science back in the 1980's. She is the biggest inspiration and I will always aspire to be just like her—strong, intelligent, beautiful and balanced. Plus, CS was a perfect fit for me because it's essentially problem-solving and who doesn't love a good problem?
What are three things that make you unique?
I had never coded before deciding to major in computer science, I can recite Pirates of the Caribbean (Black Pearl) from memory, and so far, I have not found a limit to how much chocolate I can eat in one sitting.
What are your career goals?
I was fortunate enough to get a position at an email cyber defense company as a software engineer in the Denver/Boulder area, which I am super excited about! My manager describes being a developer as being involved in something "an inch wide and a mile deep" and being a software manager as being "a mile wide and an inch deep". I would like to see both sides.
What is your favorite engineering experience?
Getting an internship as a software engineering intern really opened my eyes to the world of software development—and its not at all like I thought it would be based on my classes. The pressure is less on the grade and more on "how do I solve this problem?" That's why I got into this in the first place. It's also really rewarding to be a part of something that people use and to leave your mark. Software is a really organic thing—always changing and improving.
What are your hobbies?
Does Netflix count as a hobby? Also, I like to bake.
What do you enjoy most about engineering?
I think engineering at CU really fosters an amazing community—there comes a point when everyone discovers that working together is the way to go. From there, you're able to make some pretty incredible bonds with people.
What are you up to these days?
I'm a Software Engineer at a company called Proofpoint. Proofpoint is based in Sunnyvale, California but I work for a team specializing the Email Fraud Defense in Broomfield, Colorado. It's an amazing job and I love working with such great and intelligent people. I get to do something different everyday.
Do you have any advice to help freshmen who are pursuing an engineering major?
There were a few classes I took at CU that scared me—they were extremely difficult, stressful, and (IMHO) boring. At one point sophomore year, I had a whole crisis thinking I was going down the wrong career path and that if I had a computer science degree, I would end up doing all the things I hated for the rest of my life. I went as far as going to the business school and filling out a form to change my major. But then I got a software engineering internship that changed my mind. I would like everyone to know that you get to choose what you do in your career—especially in a field as diverse as computer science. If you really hate coding in C: don't get a job where you code in C. There are so many different and unique opportunities that are always looking for people that are passionate about what they do. During your time at CU, try a bunch of different things. Go for internships that fascinate you, not ones you think sound impressive or pay more. You'll learn what you like to do and that is the career path you go down. I code everyday now and I love it because I'm doing what I want to do.
Jenny Michael, Class of 2017, Computer Science