ALUMNI INTERVIEW: I Was A Computer Science Major, Now I…

Thinking about majoring in computer science? Read on for an inside look at how your Holy Cross liberal arts education can prepare you for a career as a software engineer.

 

Meet Regan McCooey ’16, Software Engineer at TripAdvisor.

In one sentence, what does your job entail?

As part of the TripAdivsor Vacation Rentals CRM, team, I build programs that gather data and identify potential email recipients of commercial and transactional emails.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

After my sophomore and junior years at Holy Cross, I interned at a bank as a software engineer. Originally, I thought I would end up working there; however, after my second summer, I realized that software engineering in finance wasn’t the right fit for me. I began to look into software engineering roles at larger tech companies. My family friend suggested that I apply to TripAdvisor. I interviewed in October of my senior year and was offered the job. I knew it was a good fit because the people seemed very nice and the culture was exactly what I was looking for. I also wanted to do more consumer facing software that would impact real people rather than just writing programs for the back office of a bank.

What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I played varsity golf for two years and was on the ski team. I participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor, acted as an officer for the Math and CS Club, and was a teaching assistant for computer science.

What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I majored in computer science. The classes I took at Holy Cross inspired my love of programming, and helped me decide to pursue a career as a software engineer. When I took Compiler Construction, an upper level project course that involved a lot of programming, I knew that I wanted to be a software engineer.

What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

Besides teaching me how to program, Holy Cross taught me to adapt and to teach myself the skills necessary to solve the new problems I encounter every day. The software industry is very fast paced. Things are constantly changing and you are expected to adapt and learn fast. Working in the industry is also very different than programming at school. Nevertheless, the various projects I completely in my computer science courses challenged me to face the problems in front of me head-on and to find creative solutions. My Holy Cross experience thus instilled in me the confidence to take on the new challenges I face every day at TripAdvisor.

What advice do you have for students on campus today?

I would tell current students that they should never feel unqualified or unable to do a job because they don’t have all of the qualifications listed on a job advertisement. Job postings usually have an intimidating list of qualifications, especially in the software industry. If a student meets even one of those qualifications, they should apply for the job. Holy Cross students should always feel confident that they will be able to learn the specific technology required on the job. Prior to starting at TripAdvisor, I barely knew the two programming languages that I now use everyday. After a few months, I easily got the hang of it.

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