Weston Verhulst

July 17, 2020

Portrait of Weston Verhulst

Weston Verhulst

Weston Verhulst

Kansas City, MO 

Why did you choose to attend Mizzou for the IT program?
I initially chose the IT program because I was planning on enrolling a dual MBA program. I picked IT to pair with the MBA because I knew that IT was an in-demand field that would present me with a lot of opportunities afterward. During the middle of my sophomore year, I decided to add a Bachelor of Science in Economics, instead of the MBA.

Tell us about your educational experiences.
I focused more on software development. I definitely had a few courses that I remember particularly liking. The first course was CS1050, and this will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first programming course I ever took. It instilled in me a passion for programming. My second favorite course was CS3050 because I began to experience the real power and capability behind programming when we learned about advanced algorithms and advanced data structures. It was an incredibly tough course, but I felt like I learned a lot. Finally, my third favorite course was IT4405, which is the group iOS App Development course. This course paired developers with journalism students, and we built a group project that I really enjoyed. I had a fun group and the final presentation of our project was also a great experience.  

Where will you work after graduation? How did the IT program prepare you?
I will begin my career working as a software developer for Mastercard in St. Louis, MO. I do think Mizzou prepared me for this role in the sense that I have been exposed to a lot of the general programming concepts and methods that one can encounter. Obviously, Mizzou did not make me an expert in the technologies and software that Mastercard uses, however, I know what the general ideas are behind the software thanks to the IT program.

Did you have an internship or other opportunities during your time at Mizzou?
I had an internship with Mastercard the summer of my junior year going into senior year. This was an awesome experience, as I really got to see the big picture of IT and how vast of a field it is. There are a lot of opportunities out there that the IT degree can lead you toward. For instance, at Mastercard, I was given the opportunity to explore UI/UX design, big data analytics, cyber security, front-end or back-end web application development, and more. When Mastercard offered me a full-time job offer soon after my internship ended, they basically gave me the option to choose which of these aforementioned fields to go into.

Furthermore, the CS/IT club called MCA offered a myriad of extracurricular activities to participate in throughout my four years in the club. Thanks to this organization, I was able to attend numerous events like hackathons, keynote speakers, corporate tours, as well as extra networking opportunities with companies that held info-sessions sponsored by MCA. I would not be where I am today without the help of MCA, and I strongly recommend that any CS/IT students get involved in this club, especially incoming students. I cannot tell you the number internship offers or full-time job offers that this club is responsible for generating.   

Would you recommend the IT program?
Yes I absolutely would recommend the program. The most important aspect to the program—aside from the seemingly endless possibilities the program allows one to get into—is the outstanding faculty and staff. I always felt that in every encounter I made with a professor, advisor, or other general staff, they treated me like a VIP.

Knowing this, I would tell students to absolutely take advantage of that aspect. The professors and staff helped me in a myriad of ways. For example, I reached out to professors about conducting undergraduate research in their respective labs. Every professor I emailed was helpful and enthusiastic in helping me find the right research for me. Through this, I was able to earn money while attending school, as well as gain valuable experience and knowledge on certain topics in the CS/IT field. My undergraduate research was a major contributing factor to landing my internship, as it made me stand out from the rest of the applicants. Furthermore, my advisor helped me land a position as an engineering tutor, which again was a paid position that also bolstered my resume. Students need to take advantage of the fact that the IT staff truly want to help their students succeed and live up to their full potential. I’m incredibly grateful for my experience in the Mizzou IT program, and would absolutely recommend it to anyone else.