This Microsoft Software Engineer and former camper says the key to success is taking advantage of opportunities.
Charlie, excelling in his career as a Software Engineer II at Microsoft, encourages students to take the time to explore new things.
“Particularly in STEM,” he says, referring to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. “There are so many opportunities to pursue. When you’ve found something you want to do, dedicate the time to gain some experience and understanding, and don’t give up if it doesn’t meet your expectations right away.”
With a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from Tufts University, Charlie has been interested in and studying computers for years. After graduating college and moving to Seattle to work for Microsoft, he got the opportunity to volunteer for a program called TEALS, which helps put industry professionals all over the country into local high schools to teach computer science classes that would otherwise go untaught.
“I worked at a local Seattle high school as a Teaching Assistant for an AP Computer Science class with a couple other Microsoft engineers and industry professionals,” Charlie says.
He was also TA for his college’s computer science department. “I was focused on the introduction classes where I felt like I could have the biggest impact,” he says. “I think having a basic understanding of computer science is incredibly valuable today, and is an increasingly necessary component of a well-rounded education.”
Charlie got his start on just such a well-rounded education at iD Tech Camps, which are summer STEM programs held at over 150 campuses nationwide, where students ages 7–17 learn programming, solve engineering problems, code apps, build robots, design video games, mod Minecraft, create 3D-printed objects, produce short films, and more.
“I first attended iD Tech one summer during middle school, and I remember being extremely excited about all the different classes I was going to take,” Charlie says. “I enrolled in web design, video game creation, and, most crucially to my future career, programming."
“My programming course was really what sparked the series of events that led to where I am today. It was the first time I had ever seen real computer code, let alone attempted to write some of my own. I definitely struggled with some of the concepts at first, but was just so enamored with all the possibilities now open to me that I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from learning as much as I could.”
Charlie says enrolling at iD Tech is what made him choose more Computer Science classes in high school and pursue a Computer Engineering degree in college.
“I had always been interested in computers and technology, but iD Tech was my first opportunity to learn about those things first-hand from people who knew what they were talking about, and who worked as professionals in the industry.”
Now, in his current role as Software Engineer II, he frequently uses the programming language he learned in his very first summer at iD Tech, C++.
“iD Tech taught me technology gives everyone amazing experiences and opportunities, regardless of who they are or their background,” Charlie says.
He has one more piece of advice for campers: “Regardless of how long you pursue your interest, stay open to the idea of saying ‘yes’ to new opportunities — you never know what experience waiting around the corner might spark some previously undiscovered passion!”
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