I am a Flower…And Still a Flower: From Freshman to Junior Year

By Lisa Puran, Peer for Career

When I arrived at the Newman Vertical Campus on the first day, I breathed a sigh of relief. “Finally! a school where my mom will not be a part of the PTA,” I thought as I trudged up the steps. Although lightly humored, it instantly dawned on me that entering college would mean independence and personal growth. I would be my own boss in one of the biggest business schools in NYC, no pun intended.

I entered the building ready to tackle the day.  My schedule was looking great with the breaks between classes. I began to enjoy college for the supposed ease, by simply showing up to my classes and hanging out with friends during breaks. College life was awesome, until I received a low mark on my first exam. It then hit me that free time in college was not a luxury, but a necessity. I spent the second half of my first semester doing outlines and self-studying. Slowly, but surely I saw my grades increase despite exhausting nights studying. If college taught me one thing, it was self-discipline.

Freshman year was a breath of fresh air because it taught me the importance of management. I had to master time management by learning how to juggle my classes, study sessions, and part-time job. My planner became my best friend in mapping out my days, weeks, even months. I even learned the hard way to become financially stable when I blew one of my paychecks on food and other random items I most likely did not need. This level of personal management has allowed me to blossom from a kid reliant on mommy and daddy to an adult who can take charge of her life. However, overcoming the independence hurdle is only half the equation. I soon found myself facing a new personal challenge.

There was something about Baruch that was… different. It was the culture – more specifically the business culture. I was initially amazed at the austere grandeur of the business school upperclassmen dressed in slick black suits. Some would be sitting reading the Wall Street Journal while others flocked to corporate events or even STARR for interviews. I looked down at my flower dress and wondered how an intended Finance major like myself could fit in when I was so obviously disadvantaged. I decided to get more involved on campus by joining T.E.A.M. Baruch and applying to the Rising STARR Sophomore Program (RSSP). I wanted to build upon my leadership and professional skills so I could make myself a target candidate for internships in the future. Through these programs, I was able to witness a change in myself – I was much more outspoken and confident. I was so incredibly thankful for the opportunities here at Baruch that I became a proponent of mentoring.

Since freshman year, I have become more involved on campus, despite the stereotype against commuter schools. I held a Freshman Seminar role where I helped lead a class of 20 incoming freshman, assisting with their college transition. I also joined the Peers for Careers program, where I am able to aid my fellow Baruch students in their individual career development by revising professional documents as well as leading workshops. I was selected to participate in RSSP and also in the Financial Women’s Association chapter of Baruch College. I applied and received mentors from Baruch’s Executives on Campus. These experiences allowed me to develop as a young professional while being able to give back to the Baruch community. As an added bonus, I was able to do extensive networking and met a lot of great people, some of whom are actually now my best friends. And it is these experiences that have made me ready for perhaps my most difficult feat yet – Junior Year Recruiting.

I am happy to say that with all of the support and experiences I have had at Baruch, I was able to land a Summer Analyst position at BlackRock. As I write today, it is crazy to think I have already completed 2.5 years of college. But I am grateful for the memories and am holding on tight for the rest of the ride.

Building a Career in Information Technology

By: Jason Ioffe

If you want to build a career in Computer Science or Information Technology earning a degree is just the beginning – securing these careers takes a true passion for learning. You must invest plenty of time and effort to make your mark in these highly competitive fields.

Over 300,000 jobs as computer information systems managers are offered each year in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median pay for these jobs are approximately $116,000 and those hired with entry-level positions typically need a bachelor’s degree and over five years of related work experience. So how does a college student strengthen their chances of breaking into a field that requires so much hands-on experience?

Well the answer is, practice!

In the modern business world, websites are equipped with electronic databases and the applications that drive them. To practice your skills, Oracle’s entire suite of database tools and Microsoft’s Visual Studio Express are all available via free download. Thanks to the Internet, budding tech specialists have a limitless supply of resources available to draw from.

Tinker and experiment outside of your academic and professional obligations. Perhaps the muses have swayed your heart into web design – Code Academy and Git Hub are great free online resources for all levels of proficiency.

The world of IT is constantly evolving and so should you. After over eleven years of professional experience, I still learn new things every day. Sometimes it is as simple as a new approach to problem solving; other times, I take a dive into a new application suite or programming language. In fact, almost every new IT or CS related undertaking will have you learn unfamiliar systems.

Many young professionals eager to get in the field of computer systems cannot solve programming hurdles during their technical interviews. But it is also essential to note excellent analytical, communication, critical thinking, and teamwork skills are necessary.

Even with all of these skills, you will have to network to have the best chance of landing a job. LinkedIn is your friend – not only does it help you locate and connect with key people in your industry, it also allows your colleagues to endorse you for specific skills like systems integration or C++ programming.

It may be a long and winding road toward success in the world of IT or CS. But it if you thrive on technological innovation then the computer industry might be for you.

Jason Ioffe is a Peer for Career at the Starr Career Development Center, the Webmaster of Starrlights, and a software developer at the Baruch Computing and Technology Center


Student and Computer Enthusiast Pursues Passion in Game Development

By: Jason Ioffe

Peer for Career, Majoring in Computer Information Systems

As a child of the digital revolution, my household was dominated by personal computers, the internet, and of course video games. Even from a young age, I had to know what made these fascinating devices tick.

By middle school, I taught myself to write simple routines in BASIC and C using my parents’ programming books. In them I discovered the magical world of fractal sets–images of pure, awe-inspiring beauty. Under my command, zeros and ones rushed through a VGA cable to explode into a brilliant lightshow of 256 unique colors. Since then, I focused on delicately crafting code for computer graphics and, naturally, video games.

Game development quickly became one of my greatest passions and hobbies, but I had trouble pursuing it professionally. Local business would often contract me to write front-ends for online stores or databases, but I really wanted to expand into the games industry. Towards that goal, I regularly published samples of my work to gaming communities and later onto YouTube. Albeit few people noticed or commented, I remained persistent. After all, there was nothing to lose; at the very least I would expand my audience and further develop my skills.

In 2008, I received an email from an employer requesting an interview for a new game development blog. I agreed, and we soon spoke over the telephone regarding my work and preferences in video games, both past and present. He mentioned that our interview may be published online or in print, and I was simply overjoyed.

One week later, I discovered he wasn’t writing for a blog at all – he was actually scouting for major development studios! Producers from a prominent London, UK based studio reached out to me via email and asked if I had interest in working on what they called a “special project.”

At the time, it seemed a little too good to be true, but I played along. Good thing, too – the “special project” ended up being one of the most popular games released that decade. Over the next year, I designed gameplay and bonus content using the studio’s custom-built level design tools.

Suddenly, game design was no longer a hobby, but a job that demanded diligence and professionalism. I was under a strict schedule and had to reach milestones with my work every two weeks. Plus, I found myself communicating with the press on a regular basis – sometimes through email, other times on camera for millions of people to see.

Needless to say, it was a life changing experience. I discovered that my passions could lead to real career opportunities, and started building my network of professional game developers. To this day, and likely far into the future, I continue game development as both a hobby and a career. This valuable lesson was learned: if you are passionate about something, keep at it, and do everything you can to put yourself out there. Never give up, even if things do not work out right away. Serendipity plays a role, but that fish will never bite if you never put the line in the water.