At Karen’s proding, the essays I wrote for my grad school application are below. I am aware that I lay it on pretty thick, so be make sure you have your hip waders on before you click on the link for more.
Provide whatever other information regarding your background, extracurricular activities, or general experience you may wish
As an undergraduate student, I worked to support my tuition and living expenses. I worked for the William and Mary Information Technology group, first as a member of the help desk and later as a network technician installing the networks in the residence halls. During the same period, I worked as for the Williamsburg Regional Library system as their sole techie. I developed their initial internet systems including mail servers and web servers.
After graduation, I spent 4 years working for 3GI (later acquired by RSA Security). I started as a software developer and advanced to head of our research and development group. After the 3GI office was closed, I was hired as a Network Security Consultant for Trigon Healthcare (now Anthem). My responsibilities included the implementation of PKI based systems for the communication of sensitive health care information between Trigon and health care providers.
I am now employed by the College of William and Mary as a Senior Programmer Analyst. My responsibilities include the development of software for course evaluation, the SACS accreditation process, and the College’s integrated web portal. I also participate in advisory groups that focus on information security and web software design.
In addition to my professional development, I maintain an internet domain for groups who provide content ranging from online roleplaying to ultimate frisbee. I also support approximately 15 people with email and web space. I have several personal web development projects including a popular online wishlist management system. I have authored and released two open source software projects.
Describe your career plans and the reasons you wish to pursue graduate studies.
After graduating from William and Mary in 1997 with a B.S in physics, I immediately entered the world of software development with only a minimal amount of formal training in computer science. Over the next several years, I progressed at 3GI through self teaching and mistakes made to become the head of our research and development group. My responsibilities included the design and architecture work for many of our software projects and core middleware. This was an amazing learning experience for me, but I found that I was hampered by my lack of formal training in the area for which I was responsible; I often had to rely upon instinct rather than training.
After 3GI, I realized my goal was to participate more effectively in the planning and design stages of software development. In order to accomplish this goal, I need to take the skills I have learned through experience and hone them by applying formal training. I feel graduate study in Computer Science will provide the additional knowledge and insights I need to succeed.
I have spent the last three semesters taking graduate computer science classes. The course work has begun to solidify the principals I learned through trial and error at 3GI, providing a new solid foundation from which I can move forward. I also feel that my experience in commercial software development can be an asset to the department and to other graduate and undergraduate students by offering a comparative insight to the theory and methods taught in class.
In the future, I intend to take the knowledge I have gained through graduate studies and reenter the high tech market. My goal is to be part of a small firm to develop software free of the bounds of a strict corporate structure. That environment allows for market flexibility and personal freedom. I see this as the logical continuation of my work at 3GI.