Career-ready skills gained through a campus job

Computer science major, IT employee Nicholas Reichert ‘22

When Nicholas Reichert ‘22, a longtime lover of computers, first started at Denison, a job wasn’t on his radar. However, sometimes an opportunity so perfect comes up, and you just have to take it.

That ideal opportunity was in the Informational Technology office. He realized he could “be doing the stuff that I enjoy and that I’m really good at.” Reichert adds, “It turned out to be perfect. I applied and interviewed, they hired me, and I’ve been working with my boss Jon Stevens ever since.”

Gaining practical career-specific skills outside the classroom

His campus job has given Reichert valuable lessons outside the classroom. “This was my first time jumping into an existing codebase and having to figure things out.”

He also learned time management, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. “I’ve learned a lot about solving problems within an organization. You have to weigh their needs and you have to evaluate and think, ‘What’s the best way to spend my time?’”

In addition to his campus job, Reichert has an internship with Kroger Digital. ”Kroger is absolutely huge. Any sort of organizational changes take a lot of work. Denison has been a stepping stone to working somewhere that big. I went from working on stuff on my own, to working at Denison with a couple other people, to working at Kroger with thousands of people.”

Choosing a major that fits

From a young age, Reichert was interested in computers and programming. “I started trying to teach myself programming before high school, and it was really hard at times because I didn’t have anyone to learn from. At Denison I knew computer science was a fit. I’m really interested in the theory as well as the practice of programming. Some of the computer science theory might not be as essential to the work, but I just find it interesting and useful.”

One example is a data structures class with Associate Professor Ashwin Lall. “Data Structures is kind of the core of computer sciences, and Dr. Lall did an amazing job explaining things.I feel like I got a really good, strong foundation for CS. It certainly was hard and a lot of work.”

And some of Rechert’s favorite classes have been outside his major, especially his music theory classes with music faculty Seth Rogers. “He is just so good at explaining the music theory concepts, but at the same time he is really laid back and someone you can kinda be friends with. I’ve really liked him and his teaching.”

Planning ahead for life after Denison

“I’ve realized that I like solving problems. I like working at places where I have ownership over the projects that I’m doing.”

As a junior, Reichert is planning for another internship in the summer, that will help him explore and gain more skills. “There are just so many different places and types of work within the computer science field,” he says.

“I’ve realized that I like solving problems. I like working at places where I have ownership over the projects that I’m doing. I want to work in a place where I have agency over what I’m doing and the problems I’m solving.”

“I think one of my possible long-term goals would be to work at startups and small companies. I think I’m a pretty strong all-around programmer. I have a lot of different skills that I think could be valuable at a small place, rather than specializing at a big company.”

“My goals are not to build the next Facebook or work at a top tech company, or change the world. I don’t have a lofty kind of goal like that. I just want to solve problems for people and do things that I enjoy.”

March 5, 2021