Engineering Q&A: Recent Grad and Impressive Software Engineer

By: Ryan Miller

Summer is quickly coming to an end and school is back in session. If you’re an engineering student, you’ll love this Q&A with Melissa. She’s a recent graduate and an amazing software engineer at Jelli. How did she get here? What does she wish she learned in school? Take a few to read through her interview to find out!

What were your majors in college and how did you pick them?

It all started with a college pre-calculus class in high school. I bombed the first test and it was a wake-up call. Luckily, the teacher saw my potential and encouraged me to keep trying. For the first time in my life, I was excited about math. Since then, nearly every math class I take gives me the chills because I love it so much. Naturally, this led me to major in math and computer science. I also dabbled in graphic design and considered getting a degree, but I realized that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go as far as my career was concerned.

For my first degree, I studied at the College of Idaho where I received a math degree and minored in art and design as well as computer science. It was an eclectic mix and I loved it. Once I realized that I wanted to work in computer science I transferred to a university and really focused.

When did you know that you wanted to be an engineer?

To be honest, I didn’t even know computer science was an option until my first year of college (not including my community college stint in high school). My first computer science class was really confusing and I didn’t consider it initially, but I knew that I was interested in engineering. What sealed the deal was my Dad setting up an appointment with a connection at Micron. I was able to meet with him to learn more about various types of engineering and software engineering sparked my interest. They were all hacking away at various issues and it was so exciting!

Do you feel like your combination of degrees sets you apart from other engineers?

Analyzing problems at a high level and then jumping into the details is a big part of my personality. This is why math and computer science are such a good combo for me personally.

However, many people expect me to be very detail oriented because of my math degree. It surprises them when they learn that I like to think big picture first. I like to understand which details are most critical and prioritize them before diving in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for computer scientists to be detail oriented, but sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the weeds focusing on low priority problems because they haven’t taken the time to step back and analyze the process as a whole. My math degree has really helped me approach everything with the big picture in mind first, allowing me to get things done more efficiently. 

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If you could tell 18-year-old Melissa anything related to your career, what would it be?

A few things come to mind:

  • Make sure to start your projects as soon as possible and don’t be scared to ask questions. It’s not worth it trying to figure it out on your own if you’re going to fall behind.
  • Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll be able to figure out what you want to do with your life. Find contentment with where you are right now, continue to work hard, and trust that things will fall into place.
  • Don’t worry about impressing people in your interviews. Just be yourself! I can’t stress this enough. If they don’t like the real you, you probably don’t want to spend 40+ hours with them each week anyway. This took me a while to realize but when I started interviewing at Jelli, I was open and honest about who I am. I felt really great after my last interview because I could tell Jelli was full of cool, genuine people.

What are your favorite things about working at Jelli?

The Culture

The culture here is awesome. There are so many unique personalities and I love meeting all the people who work here because they are all genuine and fun to be around.

The Tech

I love all of the complexities of the system. Even though it can get overwhelming at times, I feel like it’s going to keep my thirst for solving problems and learning new things quenched for a pretty long time.

The Vibe

It’s so great how our leadership team encourages us to think big and they listen to our ideas. I’m so glad I found a company that is open and innovative and wants everyone to contribute to overall company success.

Before we go, do you have any advice for college seniors who want to be software engineers?

Talk to your professors and make sure you ask questions. Even if you feel like they’re silly, small questions, just ask anyway! Your questions help professors better know how to guide you toward the correct answers. Stay curious, friends!