Meet Alum Matt Surabian ’07, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Zipcar
In one sentence, what does your job entail?
I create systems, write software, and maintain open source tooling that helps ensure Zipcar’s new technology platform is always able to deliver an awesome experience to our members no matter how many of them are using the service at the same time.
On campus I was most active in Residence Life as an RA and HRA of Clark (the best dorm). I also tutored students through the math department, helped out in ITS as an RCC, and worked in the art department as a dark room tech.
I came to Holy Cross as a mathematics and theater double major interested in working at the NSA. While researching an NSA summer internship I had a change of heart and ended up a computer science major interested in security and encryption.
When I started at Holy Cross, Computer Science was still a new major and there weren’t many alumni connections in the field. I used what little I knew to hustle programming work on the side to try and improve my resume. My work in the art department and interest in photography unexpectedly connected me with someone who worked at Bose. We were talking one day and he casually mentioned some difficulties they were having trying to find someone to write a piece of mapping software his team needed. I offered to help and the next thing I knew I was a freelance programmer for Bose’s live music division.
For all its glamour the tech industry is infamous for some toxic cultural issues. I’ve been fortunate to work directly for companies that have been welcoming, inclusive, and supportive, but as a consultant I witnessed toxic tech culture first hand a few times. The culture of “men and women for others” at Holy Cross helped make me a more mindful person than I was when I first arrived on Mount St. James and gave me the tools to productively talk about social issues. I feel this has helped me be a better colleague, leader, and agent for change in an industry that has serious social challenges. I’m by no means at the forefront of this effort, and still have a lot to learn; but I absolutely credit Holy Cross for making me more prepared to take part.
I also think the way Holy Cross encourages students to explore a wide range of subjects and not simply focus on their major has helped me bring a more well rounded perspective to technical challenges. A former boss once said that I was able to, “take the often abstract concepts of programming and interpret it into a vocabulary business staff can understand”, I believe the liberal arts foundation provided by Holy Cross honed that skill.