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  • Major BS, Computer Science
  • Work history Software Engineer at Visa

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I code new applications, fixes and functional entries for Visa transaction processing code. This can include everything from internal displays for others on my team, to code for international transactions to comply with international embargo rules. I also answer help internal help tickets to help the client-facing account managers understand how the code is working to process transactions. 

CMU’s computer science department faculty emphasized solving and debugging code problems on my own, as much as I could. While I have a team that is great at jumping in to help me with a problem, I’m grateful that I learned tenacity and patience while in school. CMU also does a great job of teaching many different languages and applications, so that a computer science student can go into a career in video game design, scientific technology applications such as space flight engineering, or as the sole computer tech for a start-up. I’m grateful for the variety and opening my mind, too.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position?

I thought I’d hate a full-time job and the eight-hour days. The truth is, by the time I got to my first day on the job, I was breathlessly excited to not be opening another textbook! I felt humbled by how far I went in the space of a few months, from earning my diploma to having a job title, steady salary and time to do something other than homework. It was like taking a huge gulp of air after you’ve dived as deep into a pool as you can. It felt crushing and difficult yet, when you surface, the air never tastes so sweet and free.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your position?

I was offered this job because of my internship in the summer of my Senior year (I graduated in December). I was offered the internship because of my experience in being a TA. That teaching experience showed that I had patience and had really learned the material, which to a potential manager, translates to patience, trainability and willingness to share knowledge and help your team succeed. So, having an internship and TA experience on your resume are both huge helpers.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Join a sports team. Rent a new piece of equipment from the OP. Take that spring break trip. Apply to things that you’re not quite qualified for. Schedule lunches with friends. Buy a printer. And feel free to take longer than four years. Life looks a lot different after even one year.

Connect With Kiersten on LinkedIn

Published 4/24/2019

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