Trends in Technology Careers: December SAS Alumni Panel

By Joshua Johnstone

On Friday, the first of December, the Financial Math students were treated to a rare opportunity. A panel of six industry professionals was assembled, and they all had two things in common: they were all NC State FM alumni, and they all were employed at SAS at the time of this writing. Their combined commentary on job searching, interview advice, and their take on the future of technology proved invaluable for the students.

Among the practitioners in attendance were Peter Gerakios, an accomplished Technical Writer, and Albert Hopping, a Senior Risk Consultant Manager. From the SAS risk development team, the panel welcomed Haiqing Lu, Steven Miles, Ricky Zhang, and John Izquierdo. Izquierdo began interning at SAS in the summer of 2017. He is graduating from the FM program this month, and has recently accepted a full-time job offer with SAS.

The panel Q&A was highly informative, and the panelists were eager to share their knowledge with students. Miles and Izquierdo commented on the emerging trend of high-performance computing, using methods such as grid computing and threading to achieve vastly increased processing power. Hopping and Zhang provided much-needed interviewing advice. Gerakios encouraged students to not limit their options when searching for a career. Lu underlined the essential nature of networking. All of the panelists emphasized the importance of programming skills, and having a blended skillset of both technical and “soft” skills.

The FM students found the discussion valuable. Ethan Warmuskerken, a first-year student of the program who began studies during this past summer, remarks,

I found it extremely beneficial to gain insider information from alumni of this program about the job search and career opportunities. I was also impressed by the apparent atmosphere of SAS as an employer, considering that all the panelists began their careers there, and continue to work there today.

Students and panelists were provided an opportunity to network over refreshments following the discussion. The conversations throughout the room were lively, as the professionals’ willingness to share was matched by the students’ eagerness to learn. The students and faculty of the FM program emphatically thank the six panelists, as well as career coach and event host Marla Emery, for their time and efforts.