'The tech industry is great, and we always need more smart people to build cool stuff...'
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Bachelor of Science with Honours in Computer Science
Software Engineer, PageProof
Having already amassed such an inspirational career in software development, including winning the Young IT Professional of the Year title in the 2018 NZ Excellence in IT Awards, Sam hopes that his ongoing career will be able to make a difference in the tech industry.
Since graduating from UC in his Computer Science studies, Sam has gone onto several roles in software engineering with the likes of BNZ, Sailthru, and Carnival. He is also heavily involved in IT career and volunteer events to help students into the industry, which has included presentations, interviewing influential developers, and documenting his own programming journey through his website.
‘The tech industry is great, and we always need more smart people to build cool stuff,’ he says. ‘It needs to grow, and fast, and it won’t happen on accident. If you’re someone who likes solving riddles and puzzles, who enjoys maths or music, or even design and architecture or just like knowing how things work, then a career in computer science or software engineering might be for you.
‘We don’t just need programmers, we need all types to make the world great – designers, security, testers, project managers, data analysts, and more.’
As such, Sam’s degrees from UC introduced him to both programming and versatile problem solving skills, to make him adaptable in the industry.
‘Computer Science at UC is quite foundational, and I had to do a fair bit of self-learning to apply those skills to the industry, and this is quite normal. However, almost every day I come across problems that are rooted in computer science that I can solve, or know how to start solving,’ he says.
‘A strong maths foundation also helps, but I think more importantly, to quote Steve Jobs – programming teaches you how to think. My abstract reasoning, troubleshooting, and building skills became quite good at UC, and they’re getting better and better.’
Sam had actually originally thought of studying medicine or health sciences at university, but found with the help of a career councillor that his true passions were in technology. He went onto investigating the different universities around New Zealand and enquiring with each about their Computer Science programmes.
‘The answers from UC were very encouraging. That combined with the strong ties to local industry and a UC College of Engineering Computer Science Scholarship made my choice quite easy,’ he says.
Building on his iOS app development projects during high school, the Computer Science degree gave Sam everything he hoped for in university studies.
‘I loved coding and really enjoyed that sense of total responsibility when coding – the computer will really do what you tell it, which is great when you’re right, and “fun” when you’re not. It was exciting to turn my hobby of programming into a fully time study, and it was awesome to meet others who were into it as well in my classes. I made many friends at UC who I still keep in touch with to this day.’
He was quick to be involved with CompSoc, the Computer Society club on campus. Sam was on the club’s committee for three years and later became its president, helping to run the variety of events for students including academic skills-building, industry careers fairs, and social activities.
‘It was a lot of fun to run, and we ran over 20 events a year – the committee was busy!’
Creating industry connections was a key aspect of Sam’s degree studies. He frequently made use of the UC Careers team to build his CV, and took on an internship with Verizon Connect over the course of his degree, with a final internship at Carnival in Wellington leading to his first role after graduation.
Currently Sam works as a Software Engineer at PageProof, building integrations between third party services and the company’s own software solutions.
‘I work with a diverse team of engineers to dream up, design, and develop a software application for marketing, legal, advertising teams, and more,’ he says.
‘I think the big advantage of working for small companies is the level of influence and impact you have on customers. In just a day you can write code to make a lot customers smile and make their lives a little easier. On the tech side, I enjoy working with the latest technologies, and often most projects start with researching the latest and greatest and seeing if they’re appropriate.
‘Technology is quite amazing in the fact you can write it from anywhere and it can be used in any country. We have customers all over the world, but the software is made from an unassuming office in the North Shore of Auckland.’
Nowadays, Sam has also picked up improvisational comedy acting, gaming, and even ceramics.
Looking into his future career goals, Sam hopes to continue learning and gaining experience to keep on top of new software technologies continuously being created.
‘I also wish to see myself in tech leadership one day – leading teams of developers to make something and making sure everyone is working well together, and that we’re building the right thing and building the thing right,’ he says.