Ph.D. Information and Computer Science, 2013
Why did you choose this degree?
Coming out of my undergraduate degree at Cornell University, I knew I was interested in the programming languages/software engineering space. Then after talking with UCI Informatics Professor Crista Lopes about her work on Sourcerer I knew I’d found a good fit. The informatics program offered me the flexibility to combine my interests in static analysis with a more software engineer focus to study how open-source code sees use in practice.
What has been your career path since graduating with a Ph.D.?
Since slightly before graduating, I’ve been a forward deployed engineer at Palantir Technologies.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
It’s hard to pick just one thing! When it comes down to it, though, I’d say the best part is getting to work on interesting problems with a bunch of really smart people. It reminds me of my time in grad school!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
On a typical day I get in to the office around 9 a.m. and leave around 6 p.m. As for what happens during that time, there’s a fair amount of variety. For me, there’s usually a mix of client interaction, agile project management, software design work, programming and system maintenance.
What was the best part of your experience at UCI?
Meeting my wife at UCI is definitely the best part of my experience. My favorite part of the academic environment at UCI was definitely getting the chance to work with such a variety of smart people, both at the graduate student and faculty level. Plus traveling all over the world to present my work was fun, too.
In what ways did your studies prepare you for your career to date?
The combination of significant coursework in software engineering with years of system building as part of my research left me with technical and project management skills that have direct applications to my current job. Additionally, the communication-related skills I learned during my time at UCI have served me very well when it comes to writing documentation and to interacting directly with non-technical clients about technical issues.
What would be your advice to incoming students who might want to follow a similar career path?
If you’re looking to go into a technical, non-research industry job, I’d say the biggest thing to keep in mind is that the best way to learn technical skills is by doing interesting technical work. Coursework is great for providing context and theory, but there’s no substitute for actual system design and programming. So pick a research project that involves building a system, and don’t skimp on the internships!