This summer I had an opportunity to work in a dual role as a software developer and a systems analyst. Being the indecisive person that I am, this setup was perfect for me.

A software developer is exactly what it sounds like, and I imagine most everyone in this department is familiar with the role. In this part of my job, I got the chance to expand my understanding of the .NET framework and improved my ability to fix real world problems in general. The experience contributed to my self-confidence as a programmer, because I know now that I have the ability to make an application used by hundreds of thousands of people better in a number of ways, from fixing its security vulnerabilities to making it more beautiful.

A systems analyst is someone who works in between business and technology. Given a technical problem, a SA outlines how it should be tackled in order to fit business needs while creating an efficient approach for programmers to follow as well. I liked this part of my job in particular because I got to learn about business approaches to development such as agile methodologies that were not covered in my computer science classes. I also got to design new features based on how I would most like to see a problem tackled from a technical standpoint while creating a positive experience for the customer.

But where I truly found my place this summer was somewhere in between the two roles. Although I had no expectation of working in data science when I began my internship, conversations with my colleagues revealed a great need for business analytics that was not being met. The company I was working for was managing to collect massive amounts of data, only to sit in a database completely untouched. By querying clickstream data with Hadoop, I was able to give my team hundreds of new insights about how customers were using our product, which will allow my team to improve their experiences in ways we couldn’t have possibly imagined were needed beforehand.

In my next job, I will indeed have a better idea of what I want to work on. That being said, I do not plan to have my role completely fleshed out before I even begin, either. What I learned is that an open mind will allow you to make the most impact in an organization. Not only does it allow you to find the problems that need solutions the most, but it will also lead you to discovering things that you never knew you would love.

I advise my readers to go into the career fair and recruiting season with a similarly open mind. It will open doors at companies that you may not have imagined yourself at otherwise and lead you to becoming someone who makes changes that matter.

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