I'd like to introduce you to one of the latest additions to the talent pool - Evan Estola. Evan is a recent graduate of IIT and was recently hired at my alma mater, Orbitz.
CTR: How did you like your time at IIT? Was it useful to what you do today?
EE: Many of my classmates loved to complain about IIT, but I think most of them would hate it anywhere. My overall college experience was great. The professors were smart and friendly, and the school is small, so you can really get a lot out of them if you work for it. No major complaints, although I must admit that several of my favorite professors are gone now.
I got a job right out of school so I would say that it was definitely useful. I'm hoping I get the chance to apply knowledge from some of the more specialized classes in the future.
CTR: What was one of the most useful classes you took at IIT? Did you have the chance to work on any side projects?
EE: The best class I took at IIT was Information Retrieval. I learned about not only search engines but the theory, math, and algorithms behind them. Dealing with large data sets and calculations that actually take time to complete really changed the way I look at many different problems. It was also the toughest programming class I ever took. Outside of class I worked for the Information Retrieval Lab at IIT. I also spent a summer working on comparing and analyzing DNA sequences with a tool called the W-Curve for the Bioinformatics Lab.
CTR: What are your thoughts on being an engineer in Chicago? Why did you stay?
EE: I stayed in Chicago because I could! I love this city. I love the lake, and the seasons, and the people. Parts of Chicago still remind me of the small Midwestern towns I grew up in, but then you have all of the diversity and opportunity of a major city. There are a lot of technology groups and conferences in the city as well. The only problem I have with the technology community in Chicago is that it's still very geeky. It's almost like you aren't accepted in some crowds unless you're socially awkward. Is it like that everywhere? Does everyone hate me now? Am I even allowed to ask questions?
CTR: If you wanted to build a start up, would you move West?
EE: There are enough resources and talented people here in Chicago. Plus, I was in California once and it was 60 degrees and raining and they were closing up stores because of the 'Winter Storm'. I don't think I could live there. Do they have technology in Canada?
CTR: I was happy to hear you are at Orbitz, my old stomping grounds. Tell me about what you do there.
EE: I work on the Hotel Content team. Any non-booking related information you see about a hotel on one of our sites goes through my team's code. I get to use my skills in technology like Linux and relational databases, and I've gained experience with application frameworks, content management systems, and other enterprise-scale tools.
CTR: Are you involved in any engineering groups in the city?
EE: I'm going to my first meeting of the Chicago Machine Learning Study Group tonight! I've spent time with a bunch of different groups but nothing has stuck yet.
We are looking forward to seeing how Evan's career progresses. Good luck, EE!
Evan is not a spokesperson for Orbitz Worldwide and the opinions and views expressed in the interview are his and not those of Orbitz Worldwide