My parents have been in the technology industry since I was born. I attended preschool, nursery school, nursery school, and later summer camp for many years at their company and was constantly surrounded by computers. I saw my mom succeed as females in business and technology and had a desire to follow in her footsteps, to also help carve a broader path for more females in technology. Although I knew I wanted to pursue a career in technology at a young age, I didn’t decide on a major until my sophomore year of college. I took an introductory programming class, along with a 3D printing class, in my freshman year of college. In the 3D printing class we combined Arduino boards with the models we printed – my coolest job was printing our school mascot, Demon Deacon. I programmed it to wave its arm over an Arduino-controlled motor and sing our fight song. I was able to see the direct effect of the code on something physical and wanted to continue learning from there. I graduated in 2017 from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
In my junior year of college, I had the opportunity to be an intern in the technology sector at a large bank. In the internship, I worked internally and mostly individually to automate scorecard reporting using Excel and VBA. I loved the concept of using code to automate otherwise manual tasks, but didn’t really enjoy the lack of collaboration and communication that the role required and wanted to work somewhere that was at the cutting edge of technology and was constantly evolving.
Through an internship and several different projects in school, I learned a lot about effective communication, problem solving and how to partner with others to get things done. I learned a lot about my skill sets, but also learned a lot about my shortcomings and what wasn’t very interesting to me. I’ve learned that I’m elegant and enjoy networking, partnerships, puzzles, and problem solving but don’t necessarily like working on screen all day. This helped me determine that I wanted to work pragmatically with clients and help come up with technical solutions to their problems or goals. Internships and school projects are a great way to see which part of the computer science industry you enjoy and remember; You don’t have to love every computer science job to love computer science. Be open to different possibilities.
In my current role, I manage a team of Technical Account Managers (TAMs) for Tableau. Tableau is a leading analytics platform that helps people see and understand data. Tableau is a part of Salesforce that provides a CRM platform that allows a single shared view of customer data. TAMs Act as a client’s trusted Tableau advisor Premium customer support. TAMs identify and address technical concerns and requests, aligning with customer priorities, projects, and issues related to our products. They bring high-level technical expertise and serve as the primary technical point of contact for the account by coordinating with product management, sales, technical support, and engineering to manage the customer relationship. Prior to taking on an administrative role, I was a technical account manager. Now I help recruit, manage and develop my team of TAMs. I work to increase customer satisfaction through the consistent success of my team members, ensuring that customer goals are met and equipping my team with the knowledge, bandwidth, and resources to be as successful as possible.
I interact with nearly every role in the sales and product cycle on a daily basis. I partner with our sales teams, including account executives, solution architects, and customer success managers to help manage the customer relationship, ensure the customer sees value in our products, and work to increase product adoption. I work with product managers and developers to help educate our customers about new or upcoming features, get their input on feature requests, or discuss product flaws that may need developer assistance. I interact with clients to understand their goals and desires with the premium software and Tableau as a whole and work with them to make sure their environments are built, optimized and scaled for their goals be it user/content growth, performance improvement etc.
I recently planned, coordinated, and implemented a pilot project that allowed for greater partnerships between developers and support engineers. The goal was to have developers follow through on customer support calls to get a deeper understanding of the pain points customers face when managing and supporting our products.
I think it’s great that Salesforce uses its products internally in our day to day work. It really helps me see the value and gain a deeper understanding of the products we produce and support. I use Tableau for a lot of reporting on different tasks within my team and information about my clients. We use Salesforce to manage support cases. We also own and use Slack as our digital headquarters to communicate efficiently and effectively with our teams and customers (and throw in lots of gifs and emojis for good measure).
My favorite part about computer science is the feeling of solving a problem from start to finish. Through computer science, I can think of ideas that solve problems, design possible solutions, and then implement those solutions. My advice to anyone who thinks computer science sounds interesting is just Try an introductory class in your first year of college and see how you like it. Also, keep in mind that not all computer science majors have to end up becoming a software developer or product manager. There are a lot of technical paths you can follow and a lot of different industries you can work in with the support of a computer science degree. I highly recommend doing informational interviews with people in different roles you might be interested in – you can learn a lot about what you do or don’t like from hearing what someone does in their day-to-day work life.
Rebekah has shared some amazing insights into her career in computer science, but some of you may be wondering what is the difference between computer science (CS) and computer engineering (CE)? First, CE and CS are two central areas of technology oriented around computers and information systems. CS and CE majors learn coding languages and CS and CE majors often work together in technology after graduation. Computer engineering tends to focus more on computers and the design and electrical systems integrated with them. Computer science tends to focus more on programming languages, data analytics, networking, cybersecurity, and operating systems.
A great place to learn more about computer science or computer engineering is during the college open houses. At that time, you will have the opportunity to talk to students and staff for each discipline and they can provide more ideas. Another good opportunity is through STEM pathways “Introduction to computer science and software engineering“ online free Of course, or during SWENext events where professional SWE members are happy to share all about their careers!
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