Adam Garcia, a senior computer science major from Abilene wasn’t sure what to expect when he came to ACU as a student. His father, an alumnus of ACU, had shared many stories about his time at ACU and it spurred Adam to make the decision to become a Wildcat. Since stepping onto campus, Adam has been very involved at ACU. He is a 4-year member of the Big Purple marching band serving as vice-president, is a member of SIGCHI, and is the pledge master for the men’s fraternity Pi Kappa.
Adam’s favorite thing about being a SITC student has been the opportunities and resources that have been provided through the ACU Career Center, the EDGE professional development program, and the department for interviews for internships, leading to potential jobs after graduation. Garcia is thankful that these professional development partners provide students connections to meet companies like USAA. He shared that he may not have known about the internship at USAA were it not for the on-campus visit that company representatives made last year to ACU.
Garcia completed an internship with USAA this summer where he learned to use Android Studio as well as different methods of programming for Android apps. He also worked with the Agile methodology which is used for software development. While COVID-19 kept him from working in the San Antonio USAA office, Adam was impressed with the company’s ability to offer a great experience for their interns as they worked remotely, stating that the internship exceeded his expectations. “They make it a goal to be welcoming to interns and make working there feel comfortable. I was always happy to see everyone.” Adam enjoyed getting to know his teammates at USAA and said that his mentor and manager were extremely welcoming. He appreciates the culture that USAA has created saying, “It was a very lighthearted and comfortable environment. I never felt like I couldn’t ask questions or that I would be in trouble for not knowing how to do something.” For those students who will take part in internships, he advises that it is important to ask for help as it will enable you to learn new skills as you work with new programming problems that you may not have seen before.
His internship has also made Adam see the classroom in a new light. Rather than looking at the material as something he needs to memorize in order to pass a test, he now sees the importance of learning the material in order to provide practice and a thorough understanding of the skills he will need for the workplace. He now has a taste of what his future might hold. “As a programmer, I know what it looks like to work in a professional environment. When you are a student your main focus is learning the class material, but you never get a chance to apply it in a professional setting. This internship allowed me to experience what programming in a professional environment was like.” Garcia is eager to begin working for USAA as a software engineer in August 2021 and wants future interns to remember that technical skills are not everything that matters for an interview. He says that it is your character that is also a big selling point. “It is easy for an employer to teach someone to do the work but it is another thing for someone to actively be a team player who is kind and genuine because this is where people will notice a difference.”