Programming did not come easy for Alex Castelli ‘15, but that challenge did not hold her back. While at the College, Alex immersed herself into the Charleston tech scene as a member of Women in Tech and interned with the Charleston Digital Corridor (CDC) and Atlatl Software to bridge the gap of academia to real world applications. Being involved in the computer science department and community gave Alex the passion to strive and want to learn more. After graduation, she secured a position with start-up software company, Qonceptual, where she is currently a Quality Assurance Engineer.
How did your time at CofC prepare you for the professional world?
The most helpful tool from CofC was learning the theory behind programming and Computer Science. This gave me the background in programming that many self-taught coders don’t have. For example, where objects go in memory, the basics of object-oriented programming, sorting algorithms, etc. These tools give you the stepping stones to learning other languages based off the similarities.
Classes, such as CSCI 362, CSCI 462, and Databases, were some of the most helpful for me on a day-to-day basis in the professional world. Through these classes I learned the process of software development, how to perform Quality Assurance effectively, use Git, and understand the basics of databases. All of these tools were directly applicable to my everyday job. Also, my CSCI 362/462 projects helped greatly in starting a portfolio to show employers when I went on interviews.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
I felt very behind the other students throughout college. I wasn’t interested in going home to play video games or study new frameworks. It made me feel like I didn’t relate to the other students. However, it wasn’t my lack of knowledge that differed, it was my confidence in sharing what I was learning and maybe using the wrong terminology. As I started internships and jobs, I felt much more confident to talk in my classes and share what I was learning with others. It gave me the confidence to ask questions when I didn’t understand something and understand how what we were learning in class was applicable to what I would do professionally.
Who has been a mentor to you, and what was the biggest lesson you learned from him/her?
I have been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my life, each that serve their own purpose including my parents, some wonderful teachers in the Computer Science program, and employers. My parents for their work ethic, the Computer Science faculty for teaching me during their office hours and staying later than they had to to make sure I understood the material, and my boss at the Charleston Digital Corridor, Ernest Andrade. Ernest has been a wonderful example of someone who works hard because it’s his passion and lifestyle, not just because it’s his job.
How do you like to spend your time outside of the office?
Outside of the office, I like to just enjoy Charleston. I have a horse that I try to ride as much as I can during the week and at horse shows. But, what we do is a lifestyle and it’s something that is intertwined with life outside of the office from the people we work with who become our friends, staying up late to solve a hard problem, or constantly attending community events.
To stay connected with the department, visit the Alumni page on the department website.