Where are they now? 2015 Barrett graduate Becca Little thriving in first software engineering job

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November 14, 2019

Becca Little, a 2015 graduate of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Barrett, the Honors College at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus, is thriving as a software engineer at State Farm. She credits her experience at ASU and Barrett with helping her get the job and advance quickly through the professional engineering ranks in research and development at the company.

We caught up with Little to check in on how she is doing and get her thoughts about her undergraduate years.

 

What drew you to Barrett?

I grew up a military kid and spent my last two years of high school in Alaska. As a National Merit Scholar, I was attracted to ASU because of the high number of scholars and good scholarships available to students. Initially, I looked at Ivy League schools, but Barrett allowed me to be at a prestigious school while still going to big football games and taking advantage of everything ASU has to offer. I ended up at the Polytechnic campus because my original major was general engineering. As a general engineering major, I was exposed to coding my first year, moved to software engineering, and never looked back!

What did you love most about ASU Poly?

The community, student-teacher ratio, and atmosphere at Poly is like a small college, but you still have the resources and diversity of a major university. I was one of ten students in several classes, which made for great relationships with professors. We bused to the games on Saturdays. You get the best of both worlds, and it is a beautiful campus. I lived on campus for three years and enjoyed the housing experience with other Barrett students. It is great for students who want a small campus experience.  

What is your favorite memory from Barrett/ASU?

My favorite memory from Barrett was the annual retreat at Poly. I believe it is mostly for freshmen, but many upperclassmen attended my first year. It was very intimate and kicked off my relationship with a group of people I grew close to over time. I went back as a mentor every year. In addition to camp, I loved my involvement in club soccer at Poly. I was the president of the club, and met my partner there my sophomore year. We’ve been together for seven years now!

What is the most resourceful tool at Barrett that you utilized?

I used the thesis equipment fund to purchase the Oculus Dk2 (virtual reality headset). This was right after Facebook purchased Oculus. I tried VR at a conference right before my senior year, and wanted to do my thesis on it. The Barrett thesis equipment fund allowed me to do just that. Once I started working in R&D at State Farm, I purchased my own VR headset development kit and have been using it ever since. My experience with the Oculus Dk2 and my thesis work gave me immediate respect from my co-workers at State Farm. I used my experience with VR to start a VR team within our R&D department called The Labs @ State Farm. We’ve done a ton of cool things over the years and are now moving to production!

How did Barrett prepare you for your career?

I took Advanced Placement Language and Literature in high school and scored 5s on my exams. I was a good writer, but earned a D on my first Human Event paper. My professor told me that I made the obvious arguments, but could dig much deeper. Barrett set the bar higher, which helped me develop. Exposure to philosophy and participating in those discussions with other engineers was extremely valuable. In addition to my Human Event experience, my work as a Barrett writing tutor also prepared me for my career. I write a lot in R&D. My ability to write and coach others is a valuable asset in the workplace. I went from writing to get good grades to writing to persuade others.

What advice do you have for young alumni?

Students are encouraged to do a lot in college: get involved in clubs, volunteer, and do extra projects. That same work ethic can apply to work assignments. You can use your other skills to do side projects to develop yourself and grow professionally. Look outside of the box for other opportunities. You can make real change happen and advance quickly. I’m the highest level software developer I can be at State Farm at 26 because I took my learning experiences and tried to do work outside of my regular requirements. That said, take your first year post graduation to relax and get to know yourself and your job.
 

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