Meet Andrew, an applications engineer, who hails from Fremont, Michigan. Andrew has earned a B.S. in Psychology from Michigan Technological University and a B.S. in Computer Science from Oregon State University. An avid backpacker, cycler, and role-play gamer, Andrew geo-baches and works remotely for IBM via contracting firm Collabera.
Was there a special moment growing up that inspired you to pursue your STEM field?
When I was really young (kindergarten-1st grade), I was fascinated with the Free Willy movie series. Learning about animals and the way they lived was amazing to me. That later transitioned to a love of technology and computers that I shared with my dad growing up.
What are your interests outside of the office or lab?
I spend a lot of my free time, that I’m not spending with my wife, planning and participating in table-top role-playing games (i.e. Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Starfinder). Not only do I run and play the games, but in the past year, I have been writing content as part of a network of podcasts and blogs.
Beyond that, I also enjoy cycling and going on backpacking trips with my wife. I would say that well over half of our anniversaries (the ones she is home for!) are spent out in the woods or mountains camping!
What inspires you?
Seeing all the innovative ways that military spouses have tried their best to build a career while also fully supporting their service member’s career.
How does a typical day begin?
In this pandemic world, my typical day begins with some meditation to help manage my ADHD, some exercise, and then breakfast!
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
My team is currently converting a Windows application that was made in the ’90s to a web-based application; including updating the back-end engine that runs it. All while keeping the appearance and functionality that users have had for the past 20+ years!
What do you appreciate about your work environment?
Working from home, my biggest appreciation is having a second desk to keep my “fun” personal desktop separate from my work environment. It has helped me stay focused.
What is one professional achievement you’re most proud of?
My first project has fully gone into production and has been accepted by our client. This project could impact well over 100,000 healthcare providers and their access to some of their files that reside with our client!
What do you like most about your job?
The favorite part of my job is getting the chance to work within a legacy system. Seeing how choices were made in the past and how we can improve upon them in the present!
How can professional organizations like the Society for Military Spouses in STEM help you with your career or professional goals?
While there are a lot of great organizations and volunteers that have resources for military spouses to help build resumes and make business connections, there are some specific differences in resume building [for] professionals in STEM (and other fields like law). The networking opportunities an organization like SMSS provides is invaluable.
What advice would you give new spouses on entering or finding success in STEM career fields?
I’m sure you’ve heard it before but the key to success, especially when connected to the military, is to be flexible. Be willing to sacrifice some time with your spouse and build a solid base for your own career. Don’t be afraid to take a job just because a PCS might be coming up, especially if it is a job that will lead down the path you want YOUR career to end up at.
Do you have any go-to professional organizations, educational opportunities, job resources, or helping agencies that have supported your career growth?
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, Oregon State University has a great post-baccalaureate program for Computer Science that can be 100% online. There are a variety of different coding groups on Facebook (like MilSpouse Coders) that has a helpful community if you’re wanting to just dip your toe into programming!