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Drew U Student Profile: Katie Jefferson C’20

The two-sport athlete explains the skills every computer science major needs.

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Having grown up in Hawaii, Katie interned at the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui last summer where she helped build a graphical user interface that ultimately tested, tuned and troubleshot the telescope's rotator control systems.
“Drew classes prepared me for the real world, and the real world helped prepare me for higher level classes.”

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Katie is a member of the Swimming & Diving and Golf teams.

I’d really love a job in software engineering. I didn’t know there were a ton of STEM jobs in Hawaii before I was immersed in it. I was well prepared [at Drew], having taken a front end web development class and a class that looked at a system’s back end. The system I managed and helped build in Hawaii was more in the middle ground of the two. And now that I’m back at Drew, I have some experience with a lot of the skills we’re learning in class and I can think back on my internship and apply them.

During my internship I kept a list of all the things I didn’t know at my desk, and I got through each day by trying to cross them all off. The fun thing about computer science and web engineering is that you can think of how to do things in your head step by step to complete one big project; you have to figure out each little step as you go and gain skills along the way.

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Katie isn't confining her next steps. She's considering positions anywhere from California to New Zealand.

I love how the upper level classes are structured here. They’re really project based. We get an initial understanding of the coding and the syntax and then we take those tools and see if we can get them to do something. It’s how to build a project and then how you can adapt your project to fit [the customers’] needs.

Being able to explain and communicate your work is really important. In my current class, we build a project and then we present it to the class. “These things control these things. Here’s a data set. Here’s what the customer ends up seeing. And here’s how they all interact with one another.” The presentation is a big part of our grade because that’s what matters—not just the technical skills but being able to articulate it in the real world.

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