“What worked for me still works for our computer science grads today. They’ll have a solid technical background, and they’ll have skills that come from having a liberal arts education that will give them a leg up.”
Jason Whitaker '97 got his start in the computer science field while at Transylvania, and it's also at Transylvania where he found his dream job as vice president of information technology.
While Whitaker was studying for a computer science major and studio art minor at Transylvania, he took a part-time job at IBM as a software developer. He used that experience along with his Transylvania education to land a full-time position there after graduation, eventually managing a team of developers.
"A lot of folks at IBM had degrees in computer science, but I felt my ability to write well and think critically gave me a leg up," Whitaker said. "It was clear that my experience at Transylvania was paying off, and that led to a position in development management."
In 2008, after 13 years with IBM, he returned to his alma mater as director of information technology and was named vice president for information technology when the position was created in 2010. He works to ensure Transylvania maintains a stable technology base while keeping up with blazingly fast technology trends.
"I absolutely love this job; it's so much fun," he said. "We get to see a little bit of everything. I write some code, I do networking, I work the help desk. I'm not just sitting at a desk all day. Now that I'm on the president's cabinet, I see more of the administrative side, as well."
With more jobs opening in technology every day, Transylvania students like Whitaker have the opportunity to set themselves apart by offering more than the expected computer skills. And that "leg up" may lift them to unexpected heights.