Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Brad Orego
Occupation: User Experience Designer
Education (UR and additional): BS (Computer Science), BA (Psychology), University of Rochester, 2010; T5 2011
Current city/state of residence: Madison, WI
Community activitiesMUFA (ultimate frisbee), Kanopy Dance Company, MCVD (dance), Madison Curling Club, UXMad, 3-Day Startup, Startup Weekend, 100state
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
When I was a senior in high school considering my options for college, I had decided on two areas of study that I was interested in majoring in: Computer Science and Psychology. Due to that, the schools I looked at were split into two groups: tech schools for CS and liberal arts schools for Psych. When I came to the University of Rochester, I had a meeting with the chair of the CS department, who asked me what I wanted to major in. When I explained my situation, he simply said “why don’t you come here and do both?” Aside from being in love with the culture and atmosphere of the U of R, this sealed the deal.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was in several dance groups, a CSUG e-board member, involved in ResLife, and a few other clubs here and there, as well as a TA/Workshop Leader. Aside from a way to get out, try new things, and meet new people, getting involved in the leadership of those clubs had an incredible impact on my growth and experience at the U of R. I still use examples from various e-board positions when interviewing for positions, and it really brought my learning out of theory in the classroom to practice in the real world. Working with students across majors/interests is an incredibly valuable lesson in teamwork.
What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?
Definitely do whatever you can to get involved in something that isn’t just academics. I fully believe that the college experience is about more than just what’s taught in the classroom. Check out the Activities Fair and the various clubs and activities available on campus – they can have a huge impact on your time at the University. Also, don’t be afraid of the Career Center: they’re there to help. They’re an incredible resource, and can really improve your job/internship search process.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I decided to go straight to work as a Software Developer when I graduated because I was a little tired of academia after so many years, and I also wanted to get some good real-world experience in software development/the software industry. After discovering that pure software development wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I decided to leave my first job for a position as a UI Designer, which is more in line with what I focused on in college and am truly interested in/passionate about.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
One of the greatest things you learn while at the U of R, whether you recognized it or not, is the ability to adapt (especially when it comes to Computer Science). We’re taught many things while in college, but not many of those things directly apply to the real world. What learning all of those things teaches us, though, is the ability to learn and to adapt yourself to a variety of tasks, and to constantly be learning and reinventing yourself. This plasticity is one of the most valuable assets in the job market today.
How are you still connected with the University?
I keep in touch with a lot of my underclassman friends that are still at the University, as well as a handful of my now-fellow-alumni friends. I usually make a trip back every semester to catch up with folks and to see the BPG show every semester, as I was heavily involved with that group in my time. I read all of the newsletters and publications that come from the U of R, and occasionally drop by the homepage/other group pages just to keep tabs on things.
What advice do you have for current students?
Get involved with something. Your education is more than what you learn in class, and getting yourself involved in something you’re really passionate about will keep you connected to the University far beyond your years there. It’s a way of leaving your mark on the University, and to have something to point to and say “I did that”. The experiences you’ll gain from those challenges will be indispensable in the scope of your entire education, and you’ll enjoy school a lot more than if you just go to class and study.