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Alumni Spotlight - Samantha Sanders, Class of '13

Samantha Sanders

What were your favorite memories of UT and McCombs? 

One of my favorite things about UT is that there’s always something going on; so much stimulation. In my four years, I don’t think I was ever bored. If I wasn’t in class or studying, I was at the climbing wall, hanging out with friends, taking advantage of life in Austin, or just stumbling across events around campus. I was surprised by how small UT felt once I got settled in. McCombs facilitated this because I would constantly run into people I’d seen in class, the Mill Lab, or org meetings. McCombs and UT had so many opportunities for me to grasp onto.

What are you doing now? 

I currently work at Phillips 66 as a Mobility Developer. We have a small team which develops the internal and external iPhone apps for the company. It’s exciting being a part of a new team, especially as there is increasingly growing demand by the business for new apps. I don’t do any ONE thing on a daily basis, and I love that. I don’t think it’s possible to be bored in this role! We’re constantly faced with developing new apps as well as tweaking and upgrading those in production. Although I’m primarily an iOS developer, my job is comprised of much more than working in Xcode. I do a bit of coding in Visual Studio with C#, and a surprisingly lot of Photoshop work. I get to let my creative side out when designing app interfaces and icons.

What's the most challenging part of your job and what do you like most?

The most challenging part of my job is figuring out the nuances of such a big company. Something so seemingly simple can turn out to be a rigorous effort because the company has set protocols for how it should be done, who needs to be notified and involved, etc. It’s not like school where everything is set out for you and all you have to do is complete the task. Here, I have to do a lot of information gathering, figure out the rules, set and prioritize the tasks, and THEN complete them. Because a lot of my work is self-paced, it’s difficult to organize and prioritize my many tasks.

I really like the freedom my role offers. I have set things assigned to me, but there’s also a lot of leeway on what I can hone in on. I can easily initiate a conversation with my boss about branching out into something that seems interesting to me, whether it be Android development, user interface design, or back-end development. The team is very collaborative, and I like having the opportunity to put forth my input and have an impact within such a large company.

Where are you now?

I’m working for Phillips 66 up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The company is headquartered in Houston, but Bartlesville is where most of the IT organization is located.

What did MIS provide you that helped you be successful?

The education I got at McCombs has been very beneficial to me because the curriculum for MIS covered a wide array of topics. I feel like I use bits and pieces from every class I took, especially MIS/tech fundamentals from 301! Getting exposure to web development in 325 and 333K really helped me grasp my current role. They gave me the basic skills upon which I’ve built to tackle mobile apps. I do quite a bit of .NET (C#) development in my role, so even though I’d never written anything in C#, I was able to work off the VB.net and ASP.net experiences I gained in classes. Also, 374 gave me exposure to what it’s like to work with an actual client, and how to work with non-IT folks. I’m constantly interacting with these types of people- those who think they want something, but need the help of tech-savvy people to help guide them down the right path. That class definitely made me more patient and understanding of the business-side of things. Gaining programming fundamentals in 304 has helped me greatly. Even though Objective-C is totally different from working with windows forms, the lessons on logic and object-oriented programming definitely come into play when I’m trying to write my own or follow someone else’s code. 333K taught me that there are MULTIPLE ways to get things done. It’s up to the individual to figure out the most efficient and sustainable way to do it. There’s never just one “right” way. And of course, I learned about working in a high pressure situation with a group of people! I’m comfortable in my current team because I’ve had lots of experience in McCombs being a part of a diverse group of people with varying skills.