Career Exploration Conference Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Mercier ’07-’09
If you missed the Career Exploration Conference (Feb 3rd & 4th), we had the opportunity to connect with our alumni panel. Sarah Mercier ’07-’09’ was one of the alumna on the panel. She was a Computer Science major and is now an Engineer at Spotify. Sarah took the time to interview and answer some questions (see below). She is open to connecting through LinkedIn if you want to learn more about her and her journey post-Denison.
- Please share what you do in your current role and a little about your career path since leaving Denison.
- I work as a Backend Engineer in the Music Personalization space at Spotify. My team is around 10 people, our services manage the selection and ordering of songs in personalized playlists. After graduating from college, I was accepted into the SEP (Software Engineering Program) at JPMorgan Chase and worked there for a little over 9 years. I switched to Spotify in 2021.
- What did your career exploration look like as a Denison student?
- I had a job during classes as well as an internship every summer. Each time I got a new job or internship, my goal was to try different kinds of roles at different sized companies (startups, non-profits, research, large companies, etc.). After each, I would reflect on what I liked about the work itself but also the industry and the culture. This helped me to have good questions when applying for new roles/internships and narrow down what kinds of roles would be a good fit for me and how I like to work.
- How did you decide what type of career/position you wanted to pursue right after college?
- I knew I wanted to code, and the SEP Program at JPMorgan Chase offered a lot of opportunities to grow and learn, as well as guaranteed a promotion every year until you graduated from the program. It was also in Columbus which was an area I wanted to live in, and it paid well so it seemed like a good fit.
- How do you feel Denison prepared you for your career?
- The Denison CS and Math curriculum do a great job encouraging students to think about not only what a particular program or line of code is doing but also why and how it does that thing. This leads to a general curiosity and deeper understanding of the underlying logic which is happening in popular higher-level languages (Java, Python, etc.) that a lot of college graduates do not have.
- What is the best career advice you can offer?
- Try new things and remember that you learn something from every experience. Even if an internship or a job is not a good fit, the experience can help you eliminate early on in the interview and career exploration process roles that are not going to be for you and help you narrow in on the kinds of roles that are going to make you happiest.