As an electrical engineering major, Jonathan Bisbano ’11 kept software coding at a safe distance. He took the requisite courses, but mastering the skill was like learning a foreign language, and it wasn’t something he envisioned for his career.
Fast forward to today and Bisbano is a senior programmer/analyst at Meditech, a Massachusetts-based electronic health record developer. The lesson: take advantage of the opportunity to build your toolkit of skills as a student because you can’t predict which route your career will take.
While searching for an electrical engineering job after graduation, Bisbano realized that outsourcing and downsizing moved many jobs to the southern and western states. Not looking to relocate, he leveraged the knowledge and work ethic he gained through the College of Engineering’s rigorous academic program to make a successful pivot to software engineering at Meditech.
“I remembered a presentation Meditech made to my senior design class, and knew a few people who worked there,” he said. Despite his dislike for coding, he scored just high enough on the programming placement test to be hired as a software support technician at Meditech in 2011, then grew his role to programmer/analyst. Today, he provides infrastructure support and develops enhancements to Meditech’s electronic health record software. “I didn’t think I’d still be here coding ten years later.”
Math and logic had always come naturally to Bisbano, and he used those skills to transition to his new programmer role. “As a student, I didn’t enjoy learning the ‘language’ of coding, but after a while, I finally began to see it as mostly logic and solving a puzzle.”
Those puzzle-solving skills were honed during his senior design project at Aerovox where he developed a more efficient testing environment for the company’s capacitors. Senior design projects are a critical learning experience for engineering students as it exposes them to the entire cycle of a project from design phase to testing to completion. “Experiencing the full scale of a project was extremely relevant and prepared me for what I would be doing at Meditech, especially as I advance my career here to a developer role,” he said. “When I develop new programs to solve problems at work, it’s the same cycle we learned in the senior design projects.”
Bisbano credits the solid engineering skills he gleaned in the College of Engineering with his successful career in programming and development at Meditech. “The engineering background I built from all of my courses has helped drive my career forward,” he said. “I learned a variety of skills that allow me to find multiple ways to approach a problem. It helps me adapt quickly in my work today.”
“The rigor of the engineering program, plus working full-time as a student, really prepared me for the demands of the workplace,” he said. “It was a lot of work, but the investment in myself was worth it.”
Bisbano tells aspiring engineers to give their all to every class. “You don’t know which way your career will change. Industry trends change, companies’ needs change. You’ll need to be flexible.”