Bronco Spotlight: Erik Larson
Data Engineer at Discover Financial Services
I will be designing and developing data process, ingestion, and transformation frameworks, as well as providing support for deployed data applications and analytical models.
If you had a campus job or internship, how did they impact your career development?
I had an on campus job at the WMU Bookstore before interning at Discover. Working at the bookstore helped me refine my communication skills and ability to work in a fast-paced environment during the beginning and ending of the semesters. Interning for Discover helped define why I really enjoy programming. I was able to, again, work in a fast and fun environment while working and learning with like minded individuals. My biggest takeaway from both positions is I really enjoy collaborating and learning with other people. Seeing other people get excited about new ideas or work they’ve been doing motivates me to better myself and try to look at things I do in a different light to see if they can be improved.
What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?
Participating in RSO’s like Sunseeker Solar Car and Outdoor Club let me express myself and build relationships outside the classroom. Sunseeker let me see how my skills related to other engineers and how all our disciplines worked together. Outdoor Club was a great way to escape from my computer and go outside to experience nature and sports with other students. Also the Student Success Center (SSC) was a resource is used a lot my first year, where upperclassmen taught me how to prepare and write assignments at a college level.
Which of your skills had the biggest impact on your success?
My desire to learn and communicate has had the largest impact on my success. Learning about new technologies or coding languages has kept me motivated through harder courses. Engaging with students and employers during expos has helped me build a large network of people I can go to for guidance or advice about programming or just life in general.
What experiences impacted the choice of your career path?
I took AP Computer Science in high school and after one semester I knew it was the career path I wanted to explore. Going to Western and learning all the different areas of programming just opened my eyes even more opportunity. Then I found a passion in cloud and big data interning for Discover that lead me to pursuing a career in Data Engineering.
What advice do you have for others pursuing a career similar to yours?
My advice to anyone pursing a career similar to mine is building a network. Getting a degree in computer science is fantastic, but the friendships and relationships made along the way will really help when going into the workforce. Being able to reach out to others whether it be friends and family, classmates or professors can create job opportunities and guidance throughout your time at college. This is advice you see all the time going into college but that's because it's true! The relationships you make in college can mean just as much as a degree.