What sort of work are you doing?
I work at Braintree Payment Solutions as a software developer on a small team—currently 15 people. Braintree is a company that allows other web developers to easily accept credit card payments online. I spend my time working on our primary application in the Ruby programming language to manage our Linux servers that run our different applications.
Do you enjoy your work? Which aspects are not so enjoyable? Are there any unexpected benefits you gleaned from earning your degree in IAM?
I love the work I do at Braintree. I spend almost every day solving interesting problems and doing the work I dreamed of while I was attending Columbia and even while in high school. The most unexpected benefit I gained by attending Columbia instead of earning a computer science degree from another college, is the design and user-experience skills I learned. This helps me create better interfaces for Braintree customers. I can’t specifically think of something that is not enjoyable about working at Braintree but it has been challenging trying to maintain the culture that I grew to love while we grow rapidly. I think I was employee number 25 and now we’re well over 50.
In retrospect, now that some time has lapsed since your internship, how useful was it? How has your internship help define or influence your current work situation?
The internships I completed at Columbia were the most useful thing I did as a student. While Columbia prepares you well for the professional world, there is quite a bit that can only be learned by doing. Especially in the technology field, things move so fast it’s impossible to learn everything in the classroom.
How well prepared were you after graduating from the IAM program? Would you do anything differently if you could go to school again?
I felt very well prepared. The best part of the IAM program is they don’t hide how rapidly technology changes and that it’s impossible to learn everything. IAM program teaches strategies and skills to help students deal with this fast-moving field.
I would say the most important thing I learned at Columbia was the ability to adapt to change. Columbia is not afraid to try new things. It’s also in the heart of Chicago. The only thing I wish I did differently was to intern more and to get my hands “dirty” faster. During my last years at Columbia, it was clear how easy it was to get involved with an internship and how silly it was for me to have waited.
What do you see yourself doing in five years?
I want to advance my skills each year and work on increasingly interesting and challenging problems. I look back and can’t believe how much I’ve learned since graduating. I hope I continue to improve all the time.
Any advice for students?
Never stop learning. Just because you’re not in school anymore doesn’t mean your done learning—it’s never over.
List three words you would use to describe yourself at the time of our previous interview. List three words that describe you now.
Then: Anxious, ready, and excited. Now: Productive, excited, and positive.
[return to Spring12 contents]