A Computer Scientist’s Tools for Success

Computer science major Cody PackerExperiential learning opportunities at Valparaiso University helped Cody Packer ’21 develop proficiencies and maximize skills that have prepared him for an empirical career.

Recently, Cody completed an internship remotely with OneAmerica, a financial services mutual holding organization based in Indianapolis.

“This was my first internship, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Cody says. “Just because the internship was remote, it doesn’t mean that I missed any of the experiences.”

Cody, a computer science major, worked in cloud migration for OneAmerica conducting deep dives into uses for the company’s applications and how they are connected. He also sought to determine what challenges apps might face during migration.

“I would say 90% of my internship was new to me,” Cody says. “I had never worked with cloud services before, and being in IT is quite different than what you learn in computer science classes.”

Although he was working in an unfamiliar field, a significant portion of Cody’s internship was based on research, a skill he honed through the EPIC scholarship program at Valpo. The program, which was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, provided students financial assistance, one-on-one faculty mentorship, and cutting-edge research opportunities beginning in their first year. Through the program, Cody’s research looked at areas of data science, a distinct discipline that is closely related to his field of study, computer science.

“Cody’s research team included work on the ‘meta,’ helping define what skills and areas needed to be included in the still emerging field of data science,” says Nick Rosasco, D.Sc., associate professor of computing and information sciences. “Their results became part of the international conversation on what a data science degree should look like.”

In addition to his research experience, Cody also relied on the social skills he developed at Valpo while presenting to his superiors and collaborating with his colleagues. Due to the remote experience, he had to overcome additional communication challenges.

“The hardest part was trying to meet everyone at the beginning of the internship,” Cody says. “It was slow at first as the process was formal, and the best way to network in the past was to meet in person. It was awkward to schedule a formal meeting for such an informal event, but it became easier to circumvent the awkwardness because everyone was in the same boat.”

While Cody was unsure of his future plans going into the internship, his positive experience has given him a clearer career path.

“OneAmerica prides itself on connections with employees and customers,” Cody says. “Everyone was trying to help me learn and grow during my internship. I would like to continue with OneAmerica after graduation, helping them continue their cloud migration.”

While the connections he made during his time with OneAmerica proved invaluable to that experience, it was those made at Valpo that led Cody to secure the internship opportunity. He found the internship with the help of Jake Landgraf ’19, a recent alumnus who was involved in the same fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, and through the Valpo Career Center’s partnership with Ascend, a service that helps students find jobs and internships in Indiana.