massachusetts institute of technology
society of women engineers

A Day in the Life of...

Katie Locher

B. S. Computer Science, Wheaton College

Software Engineer

Joined ArgonST in May 2006

During an interview with my future supervisor at ArgonST, he warned me that if I wasn't interested in the adventures of a steep learning curve, I shouldn't come to the company. This warning had its intended effect. I took the job prepared to be challenged, make a significant contribution, and learn a lot. All of these expectations were met.

Many software engineers start their careers testing software, coding bug fixes, or implementing someone else's design. On my very first day I was assigned a project which I designed, coded, and tested. Sometimes ingesting the amount of information which I assimilated felt like drinking from a fire hose. Without the higher than average level of intelligence and helpfulness exhibited by each and every one of my co-workers, I couldn't have successfully finished that project. Not only do the engineers at ArgonST know their field, but they are always willing to provide a recent college graduate with help learning our code base or understanding our development procedure. My first project recently passed its final test and I am excited to have contributed a worthwhile piece of functionality to our customers.

My everyday work varies depending on my current stage in the development process. Some days find me drawing UML diagrams to plan out my design. Other days find me tracing through code and investigating a slippery software bug. About once a week I attend some form of optional lunch time training offered by Argon to its employees on topics such as agile software development, design patterns, or new technologies.

Within my first six months at the company, I have already been given the opportunity to assume more responsibility. I was recently appointed the manager of a small segment of our code base. This means that I not only am responsible for my own projects, but I also track the correctness of others' work in this area of our code.

Ever since the age of twelve I have known that I wanted to pursue a career in computers. I started learning to program during high school, and had several software engineering internships at that time. In college it was an easy choice to study computer science. However, I did not have any software engineering internships during college. Instead, I engaged in opportunities outside of the computing field such as camp counseling. These opportunities gave me a chance to develop my communication skills, which have proved valuable in my career. I joined ArgonST immediately after earning my undergraduate degree in order to pursue on-the-job education in the field of software engineering.

Both before and after I began work at ArgonST, my first supervisor emphasized the importance of asking questions. In starting out in engineering, questions are key. Asking an intelligent question looks much better than stubbornly poking around for answers you cannot find on your own. As you begin your career, don't be afraid to ask questions.

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