How I Chose My Career in IT #mycareerstorymonday

Name: Isabelle McDermott

Class Year: 2018

Major: Computer Information Systems (CIS)

Position: Technology Associate (Entering the TechStart development program)

Company: Liberty Mutual

I started my IT career the summer after my sophomore year when I worked part-time as a technology consultant at a small IT company in Vermont (named Maple Leaf IT, how Vermont?). This allowed me to work in a more technical setting on physical computer hardware, offering me a hands on experience. Additionally, I gained a unique perspective and an important conversation piece for interviews in the next year’s search for work. This career search for the summer of 2017 led me to a position at Liberty Mutual, a large insurance company that has begun to add more intensity and focus to its IT departments. Liberty Mutual gave me the opportunity to work in a well-defined internship, gaining valuable skills and memories in the workplace. This internship has now transferred into me gaining a full-time position in Liberty Mutual in their TechStart development program.

Isabelle (right) and her friends who worked with her at Liberty having some fun at Fenway the day after the Liberty Mutual Senior Forum, a really cool event Liberty Mutual holds for seniors, where they got to network, celebrate their success, discuss progress of the company, and even meet high level executives. 

I became interested in the technology field at a young age, but it is not something I considered for an actual career until college. I have always loved technology, and been interested in the potential of tech in improving the world. I originally came to Bentley with the intentions of pursuing Accounting, a field that seemed very practical to my analytic mind. After taking IT 101, though, I learned about the CIS major at Bentley and realized this would be a better use for my skills and, if anything, a more practical career path with the increase in need for tech throughout the world. My internships solidified this, and I have fallen in love with the culture of continued improvement and progress within a well-built company.

From my past position at Liberty Mutual this summer I found the work I got to do for my team the most rewarding. Within my first week at Liberty Mutual I was placed on a Database Engineer team and got to work with members from Seattle. Thus, immediately building my communication skills and technical skills. I got to learn the basics of many database systems, diagramming, and agile methodologies. Looking back on my summer I got to make a real difference for the team and really did help the DBA’s in their day-to-day work. 

For my upcoming position in the TechStart program I am most excited for the 6 month team based assignment, in which we undergo development in different aspects of tech then are placed in a group of new hires to work on a project within our business unit. This will help ease the transition from student to workplace while still allowing us to make progress in the company.

One of the aspects I found most challenging was stepping up, taking control of my own internship. Sometimes you may not be given enough work to completely fill your days, and I struggled with going and requesting more work because I didn’t want to bother my manager. Once I got over this fear, though, my summer was much more interesting because I was able to fill my time and make more progress in my skills. This also actually impressed my manager, because she realized how quickly I was catching on and how much progress I had made.

Advice I have for someone preparing to enter a career in technology is to do your best to see as many different sides as possible. There are a million and one ways to use a major in computer information systems, and being able to work with or even speak to professionals in these fields is incredibly helpful. During my internship at Liberty Mutual I made a point to work with groups outside of my direct team to learn about other positions. I learned what areas I disliked and areas that I found incredibly interesting. One of my best days at Liberty was spent in a different office working with a team using entirely separate programs which I fell in love with. 

I would suggest that someone pursuing a career with the CIS major makes sure to utilize career services, go to CIS related networking events (especially on new technologies, this will give you a leg up in interviews and make you feel much more intelligent in discussions with peers), also I recently learned about the Mentor Marketplace and I think this would be a great way to learn about different jobs that Bentley alum have gotten with a CIS degree.

I would say that Janet Ehl in Career Services made a huge difference in helping me to get my position at Liberty Mutual. She has gone through my resume and cover letters countless times and helped me to gain skills and confidence for interviews. No matter how unsure of my future I am when entering her office I always feel incredibly confident about my professional career when walking out. Thank you Janet!

If you’re interested in pursuing a career with Liberty Mutual, or you’d like to learn more about the company click here. More specifically, if you are interested in their internship opportunities, here is some additional information. Also, be sure to connect with Isabelle on LinkedIn or Mentor Marketplace if you want to learn more from her!

By Caroline Gervais
Caroline Gervais Student Director, CareerEdge & Event Planning Team Caroline Gervais