College: University of Maryland
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: Columbia, Maryland
First Job: Project Manager for webMethods in Fairfax, Virginia. “I’ll be watching the competition and deciding what new features we want to have for our new versions of our software. I’ll be watching our bugs and the timeframe, making up a schedule for the developers and for the testers.”
Job search advice for the Class of 2000: “Internships. Don’t work at Chick-Fil-A or McDonald’s. I’ve been doing internships since high school, and every summer I would try to get a better and better one. Even if the first one isn’t that great, just putting stuff on the resume shows that you are really interested in what you’re doing. It’s not just your major, it’s what you enjoy working on. Also, start good networks through these internships. For example, you work at one company, and they know somebody at another company that would want someone with your experience. Keep on jumping around like that, and you can get a really great job that way.”
What were the most important criteria for you in choosing a first job out of college?
“I asked myself, what can I do for the future? How can I grow? I wasn’t expecting to be a manager from the day of graduation, but that’s perfect, that’s what I was hoping to grow to. And so I see myself growing from that position to being maybe a manager for a larger portion of the company. The company is only three years old. So the people who work there are all entrepreneurs. They’re risk takers and they’re in a very new market, so they’re doing things that haven’t been done before. Those features are exactly what I was looking for.”
How important is money?
“I figured, if the money’s not great, I can always go somewhere else. That’s not the most important thing to me. And I don’t think I’ll have trouble making money if I go elsewhere. As long as the opportunity is great, money will come sooner or later.”
How important is the company’s working environment?
“I worked at Microsoft for a couple of summers, and I got very used to that environment, which is extremely relaxed. You come to work when you want, you leave when you want, and you wear what you want. I didn’t want to work for the government, because usually you have to wear very nice clothes, the tie, and I didn’t want that. And I also didn’t want to be in a cubicle. It brings up issues of Dilbert. That sort of thing kind of scared me.”
Did you feel pressure from your family or professors to take a more traditional job with security?
“My family was very excited about me going for one of these risky companies that’s only been around for three years. They knew that I did not want to go to one of those IBMs or AT&Ts that’s been around for a long time, because I can guess what I’ll be doing there. It’s been done for as long as the company’s been around, and I’d rather be at a company that I just don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s more fun. Also, at this point of my life, I don’t have a wife, I don’t have kids, I don’t have a mortgage to pay. I’m not too worried if the company does go under, because I don’t have things to pay for besides rent and car payments. In my field, I’m very lucky that it won’t be hard to find another job, if that’s to happen.”
What do you hope to get out of your first job?
“I want to make all the mistakes early on. I’ll learn from these mistakes and hopefully not make them again, when I’m doing my own company.”
“I started my own company my junior year because I had a Web site that was making money through advertising. It was a Windows ’95 information site, and I felt that I wanted a company behind it, in case it gets sued, from Microsoft. Now, m company — Techtight — is working on a number of projects like free Web sites that make money through advertising and I’m working on merging my company with a friend’s company called DABU. Together we think we’re going to have some cool stuff going on. Using the latest browser technologies, but also using stuff that’s backwards compatible.”
Do you feel that employers today realize the potential of college graduates? Are they willing to hand over more responsibility than an older, more hierarchical business model would allow?
“My friends in business or in engineering are having an extremely hard time finding jobs that require no experience. In my job and my major, if I have a computer in my dorm room, I can do everything I would do working there full time. If I’m a finance major, or a engineering major, I can’t balance the books for a company or build an engineering project in my dorm room. That’s again a lucky thing with the major.”