Michael O'Connor

Michael O'Connor

CSE '07

Michael O'Connor is a Computer Science and Engineering graduate from the class of 2007, and is a Consultant at Accenture in Reston, VA.

Q&A with Michael:

What do you do in your current job?
My current role is a developer for a large government services project. The project is to create an access control system for use by our client in an online environment. For me, this entails a lot of research and trial of other software to determine which will best suit our client's needs while making life easier for the other developers.

What kind of skills do you use?
Java development, Object Oriented development, people interaction, documentation, and research. I combine these skills to produce detailed design documents, code, reviews, and to manage my and other peoples' work.

Why did you major in CS?
I enjoyed math and I took some programming classes in high school that I really enjoyed, I figured studying CS would be good way to combine the two and get an actually 'useful' degree at the same time.

How would you define a CIS graduate?
A well-learned problem-solver. Being a CIS graduate means that you've pushed your knowledge of programming into different places than you had previously thought about, which leaves you well off for the 'real world.'

Is there a class or professor in CIS that has made a particularly strong impact on you?
I have two professors in CIS that greatly influenced my current life, Jean Griffin and Steve Zdancewic. Jean Griffin gave me the confidence to make my way through CSE Undergrad and also gave me the opportunity to be a TA, which was probably the best work experience I've ever had. Teaching students and talking in front of a large group weekly was a great learning experience for work. Steve Zdancewic's class on networks and security is the reason I'm currently part of the Security practice at Accenture. He also was my professor for Senior Design and is someone I look up to when I think about how I want to interact and teach others.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Having completed a graduate program, in both CSE and Business, and managing a large team of developers. That would include defining their long term goals and schedule, and taking a hand in the day to day tasks that go along with that.

How have you changed since graduating from Penn?
I've gotten better at writing and have become more confident in myself and my skills. I was pretty sure I would do well entering the workplace after my time at Penn, but as each day at work passes I grow more confident there's nothing the workplace can throw at me that Penn did not prepare me for.

In what ways do you collaborate with co-workers and team members in your job?
I take part in code review sessions for our releases, manage defect fixes, proof read documents, and proofread code. It's great to read other people's code and documents; if done right it can be a way to review your own writing style (in code and literature) without having to actually make any mistakes.

What do you think Penn CIS has given you that you can use in your life today?
I'm able to solve complex problems with relative ease, as well as take criticism and feedback constructively. I use feedback to better myself which is something that my first project was impressed with.

How have you worked on your leadership skills since graduation?
At my company we have a mandatory two-week training session at a corporate location. I used that time to work on my public speaking and my team leading. Every chance I had to speak to a group I took, every chance I had to lead a team I took.

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