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Jarrod is an Idaho native, growing up in Kendrick, less than an hour's drive from the University of Idaho campus. He received his B.S. degree in Computer Science in 2000 and is continuing his education, working towards an MBA degree from George Fox University.
"They did a great job preparing us for the workplace."
While attending the University of Idaho Jarrod was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He participated in several intramural sports programs including softball, volleyball, and flag football. In the Computer Science program, he found database management and software design especially interesting, which was fortuitous because databases are now the mainstream of his professional work. "They did a great job preparing us for the workplace. They created an environment that established a strong balance between theory and hands-on experiences. Also, I strongly believe the senior design projects were invaluable. Lastly, I feel the program was staffed with very capable faculty."
"My education at the University of Idaho helped to transform me into the professional I am today. It provided a wonderful environment for my mind to grow and learn."
Jarrod believes that his University of Idaho education prepared him for the full scope of life's challenges. "My education really helped to transform me into the professional I am today, providing a wonderful environment for my mind to grow and learn. As I look back, I feel that I personally grew the most during my five years there. The programs were structured in such a way that the end result was a very well-rounded individual who could meet the challenges of tomorrow. We were all instilled with passion and appreciation for the core subjects, such as art and the humanities, as well as gaining the hands on experience needed in our specific programs to make us truly successful."
After graduation Jarrod began his professional career with Tektronix, a technology company that specializes in the design and manufacture of electronic instruments and test equipment, where he held a position as a software design engineer in the manufacturing organization. "My team didn't develop code for our products, but rather we worked on the systems that controlled our assembly lines. Also, we developed a global custom solution to track instrument calibrations for our products and those instruments used to do the testing of new products.
In 2005 Jarrod left Tektronix to join the team at Nike. Although Nike is not a technology company, it still has many technical roles in the IT organization. As an application engineer the general nature of Jarrod's work is to support existing out of the box systems, such as SAP, as well as work to add modifications to these systems. He also participates in development of custom applications that fill gaps not covered by their large commercial applications, including the internal workflow systems and most of their customer facing web pages.
"The application engineer role is kind of a jack of all trades, which is good, because I don't find myself getting pigeon-holed."
Most of his team's effort is focused in the financial area, where internal customers are the primary business stakeholders for digital commerce. They help Finance prepare its statements and track budgets. Another one of their prime customer groups is Operations, where they help them monitor factory and warehouse performance to ensure the products arrive at the customer in time. "The application engineer role is kind of a jack of all trades, which is good, because I don't find myself getting pigeon-holed."
Technically, Jarrod's work requires lots of interaction with very large Oracle databases. "For me, that is the strongest part of my skill set. For some crazy reason, it seems that I was wired in such a way that I have a knack for understanding data and finding ways to better utilize it. I guess it is part of that process thinking instilled in me from days at the University of Idaho."
Jarrod describes his representative day as follows: "Each day we pour through a ton of e-mails to make sure our programs are performing correctly. We use Microsoft Communicator quite a bit, which is a new chat service with integrated meeting capabilities. Project meetings happen almost every day. I am assigned to one or two very large projects at any given time and usually they have daily 15 minute stand up meetings to go over status and critical issues. It is interesting to work at a global company as these meetings usually have people calling in from Asia or Europe. I would say at least half of each day is spent responding to emails and attending project or team meetings." The remainder of each day is usually split between developing specifications and writing or testing code. "I am moving into more of a lead role now where I will shift to focus on writing technical specs for projects that can be handed off to contractors here or off-shore. I will be responsible for the end product and will coordinate testing and production migrations. Lastly, I am still involved in development each day and probably spend a couple hours most days modifying existing programs or working to improve their performance."
"This is a place where networking is very important and I need to understand how to talk to people with different degrees of technical savvy."
Communication skills are very important in successfully meeting the daily challenges. "I would say the most important skill for me right now is the ability to communicate. I cannot stress this enough. This is a place where networking is very important and I need to understand how to talk to people with different degrees of technical savvy. Also, I have found that in order to get good business requirements, I need to have the ability to peel back the layers of the onion so to speak."
In comparing the work environments at Tektronix and Nike, Jarrod made these observations. "Tektronix was much different than Nike culture wise. First of all, there are many who have worked at Tektronix for 20,30, or 40+ years. Nike has a younger more dynamic culture where people come and go all the time.
Jarrod is finding that a dynamic business environment creates ever present change. "It is very important to be open to change and to learn new things. Technology changes fast and in digital commerce we need to stay on top of it to survive. At Nike, change happens all the time and I believe that is part of the reason we are successful. We are agile and can react quickly. Constant change can be difficult to get used to and some people find they don't like it and go elsewhere."
"I really feel that through the Computer Science program and the University of Idaho, I learned the foundational knowledge that allows me to pick up and learn new technologies quickly."
Considering how his career has progressed Jarrod summed up the contribution his undergraduate education made this way. "I really feel that through the Computer Science program and the University of Idaho, I learned the foundational knowledge that allows me to pick up and learn new technologies quickly. The ability to understand and navigate the software development process is crucial so that projects can be delivered and considered a success. I still feel that coming out of school, my senior design and software engineering classes gave me a great understanding of the different software development methodologies and that has helped me a lot."
Jarrod has discovered that the old saying, "all work and no play," has a ring of truth. He really loves to travel, but confesses that he doesn't have time to do as much as he would like. He also enjoys working on house projects and likes to dabble in collecting antiques. "My wife and I both love the outdoors, so we try to go camping a couple times each year and head back to see my folks in Idaho and spend some time at their cabin in Pierce, just to relax and unwind."
The views expressed on this page are those of the individual being profiled and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Idaho or the employer. References to specific organizations and companies does not constitute endorsement of their products or services by the University of Idaho.
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