Art of coding
Andrea is combining her major in computer science with a minor in art. A member of Northwestern’s Overwatch esports team, she is interested in user interface development and graphic design. She’d like to work in video game design and development and perhaps even pursue a career at NASA.
When I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I visited one college before NWC, which should have been perfect for me. They had an animation department, fun games and cool events that I enjoyed—but it felt impersonal. Then I visited Northwestern. I talked to so many people: professors, staff and coaches. Everyone greeted me by name and knew me before I even introduced myself. I felt so welcome, not just by the faculty but by the students as well. I stayed overnight with a girl who took me and some other prospective students to the Raider Grille. I didn’t have any money, so I was just going to sit and chat, but she bought me cheese curds with her flex money. That generosity has always stuck with me. After my visit, I finally felt ready and excited to go to college, and I knew Northwestern had to be the place for me.
No wrong choice
When it came to choosing a major, I didn’t want to make the wrong choice My older sister knew there is no “wrong” choice and that most people change their majors multiple times during college. She said, “Well, you like computers and you like science, right? There you go, computer science.” I didn’t have a true understanding of computer science until my first day in class. I was pretty bad at it at first, but I stuck with it mostly out of stubbornness, since I was one of only two girls in my class and wanted to prove I could do it. I slowly improved and started to understand what I was doing. The most dramatic shift, however, was after my sophomore year internship. Ever since then, I’ve known computer science is the right choice for me. I learned so much from that summer job, and all my classes since—while not easy—have been much less frustrating and way more interesting.
Learning while interning
While working in a Christian bookstore during Christmas break, I found out my boss also led a team of developers at ACT in Iowa City. She told me about an internship opportunity with that company, I applied, and four months later, I was on a company laptop coding from my desk at home. Over the summer I worked with a team to develop the user interface for a website, gained career advice from company leaders, and interacted with other interns on the same career path as me. The experience was gratifying and the reason I decided to stick with computer science for my major. I'm currently participating in my second internship—a mobile development co-op at Vermeer Corporation in Pella—and getting an idea of what a job in this field is really like. These experiences are the building blocks of my future career opportunities.
My computer science professors perfectly emulate what I believe is the best part about a smaller campus size: interaction with faculty. I can meet my professors in their office, either to get assistance on homework or just to chat. I’ve spent hours in their offices working with them on solving problems with whatever code they’ve assigned. Their patience and assistance have been invaluable to me and has helped me through some truly frustrating problems. When I got my first internship at ACT, Professor Wallinga was the first one I told, and his celebratory whoop made me beam.
A whole education
I’ve learned a lot about computer science while at Northwestern, but I’ve also learned a lot about life. During my time at NWC, I’ve become more independent and have learned about myself and about God. I’ve learned how to take charge and make things happen. Sure, I know a lot about how to code now, but I also have a better understanding of what it means to be an adult. I know more about math and understand some Spanish, but I also know more about other cultures and philosophy. I’ve become less afraid about my choices and more confident facing the future. I’ve grown intellectually, spiritually and mentally at Northwestern.