Student Spotlight: Carl Poole

Name: Carl Poole
Program: M.S. in Computer Science
Expected graduation year: 2017
Job title: Software Engineer
Company: Playmaker CRM
LinkedIn profile

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and currently work as a software engineer specializing in Android development. I was born in England, and I’m a first-generation immigrant to the United States. I’m also a first-generation college graduate. 

What made you want to explore an education in computer science?

When I was young, my dad used computers regularly. We would often sit and watch and play games. After I was about 10 years old, he helped me make my first website, about Pokémon, and since then computers and electronics have been my passion. I love to learn everything there is to know about how computers work and how to use them to solve problems. Some people think computer science is just about fixing computers, but it is so much more than that. 

What is your academic background?

I’ve taken an untraditional path in higher education, starting when I was 22 after a stint working in financial services. I attended community college in Texas for an associate degree and then transferred to Syracuse University as a junior. Then going into my senior year, I dropped out of Syracuse University to help start a software company with friends here in North Carolina, which was exciting. I ultimately wanted to finish college as well, so I completed my bachelor’s online at University of Maryland University College along the way. Working and going to school full time is a lot to balance, but I made it work.

How are you applying what you are learning in your program?

I recently started a new project building an app from the ground up. Projects in my classes have helped me gain a deeper understanding about the needs and limitations involved in designing, building, and shipping an app that needs to work at scale. When lots of customers with lots of data start using an app you build, things can get messy quickly. I found that things I was learning in the program were immediately useful in solving these kinds of problems at work.

What do you plan to do after you graduate with your master’s in computer science?

Starting my own software business or consulting is appealing, but I also love the idea of moving out West somewhere with lots of pine trees, coffee, and techies. I am playing it by ear at the moment.

How will this degree move you closer to your long-term career goals?

My decision to get my master’s degree was both strategic and for fun. There are subjects within the computer science space I still want to explore, ranging from machine learning to cybersecurity. This degree helps me not only become more well-rounded in the discipline, but also allows me to drill deeper into concepts that will help me to be more successful in tackling challenges in the future. Along the way, coding and designing solutions is an engaging, creative process. I can’t get enough of it. 

Tell us about your experience collaborating with classmates in an online environment.

Attending college after 2010 offered me many chances to take online classes, whether it was in undergrad or now in my master’s program. I’ve worked with classmates purely through a wall of text in message-board style environments, which isn’t the best, but also through video conferencing. The immersive online format of Syracuse University’s online programs makes it feel like showing up to class in person. Utilizing live video conferences, in addition to screen sharing and text chat, makes working together pretty easy, especially when coding. It is not uncommon for me to do the same thing at work when I need to look through source code with a co-worker in a different location.

What advice do you have for others considering this degree?

This program is just as challenging and rewarding as computer science classes I took on campus at Syracuse University. Time management is important to keep up with the 10-week terms as opposed to the usual 16-week semesters, but one of the perks of the online program is that it slots around a work schedule very well. You also avoid having to battle 3 feet of lake-effect snow to get to class. Come ready to hit the ground running. In my first term, we programmed parts of an operating system on a tiny computer.