Jason J. Burke '01

July 24, 2013

Majors: Mathematics and Computer Science

Master's in Distributed Systems from DePaul University

What are you doing now?

I am a Director of Internet Solutions for Discover Financial Services.  Specifically my area is responsible for both in-house application development as well as the integration of external products in support of the Discover.com and DiscoverCard.com websites.

Residence:
Grayslake, IL

Why did you choose SJC?
I chose Saint Joseph's College for a few reasons. First, it was important for me to attend a Catholic school with a strong liberal arts program. I thought that this kind of education would not only provide me with technical skills, which change over time, but also with people skills and lessons that would last me a lifetime. I also wanted to attend a small college with strong computer science and baseball programs, and after speaking with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Brian Capouch and a baseball coach from SJC, I knew the College met all of my criteria.

How did SJC prepare you for the "real world"?

My SJC undergraduate education provided an unbelievable foundation for me as I have ventured into the last 13 years of my career at Discover.  I started as a Web Developer leveraging both my computer science and logic (math) course work to drive the first half of my career as technical resource.  As much as the math/science has served me well, it was the diverse background my SJC liberal arts education provided me (especially the Core Program) that ultimately paid the biggest dividends in my career.  Solid domain knowledge and technical skills I acquired during my major studies were essential for me to get my start in this field, but the technology is always changing so the ability to continuously learn and evolve your skillset is what allows you to continue to advance.  The Core Program helped lay the foundation for how to think critically and approach day in and day out as an opportunity to learn more.

As I progressed in my career moving into positions of increasing leadership responsibilities, other skills I honed through my Core coursework has continued to serve me well.  Whether it was the ability to get up in front of a group and present to audiences of various sizes, calmly debate options with others to determine a course of action, communicate clearly, or assume a new leadership role; my SJC education laid a foundation that has helped me grow well beyond my initial technical focus. It’s not that I don't still use my major skills as I certainly do in daily technical conversations and business applied mathematics (budgets, performance metrics, etc.); but my Core course work has played every bit as large a role in my success.

As a student, what were you involved in?
I was a member of the baseball team, Noll Hall Governor, involved with intramural sports, a Freshman Leader, Tutor for the Computer Science and Math departments, member of Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honor society, and Student Administrator for SJC's Dept. of Computer Science. I also completed an internship the summer after my junior year with Discover Financial Services in Riverwoods, Illinois, operator of the Discover Card brands and the company I currently work for. As an intern, I was unique because, in my classes at SJC, I had already been exposed to the kinds of computer programs and languages used at Discover, while interns from other colleges needed additional training. By the end of my internship, I had a written an application that Discover is currently using to help maintain employee information.

During my internship, another SJC student, Brock Heinz '01, also interned there, and the two of us were able to form a relationship between Discover and SJC. Currently, there are several alumni who are employed full time with the company.

How did SJC help prepare you for your job – including major courses and the Core Program?

My SJC undergraduate education provided an unbelievable foundation for me as I have ventured into the last 13 years of my career at Discover.  I started as a Web Developer leveraging both my computer science and logic (math) course work to drive the first half of my career as technical resource.  As much as the math/science has served me well, it was the diverse background my SJC liberal arts education provided me (especially the Core Program) that ultimately paid the biggest dividends in my career.  Solid domain knowledge and technical skills I acquired during my major studies were essential for me to get my start in this field, but the technology is always changing so the ability to continuously learn and evolve your skillset is what allows you to continue to advance.  The Core Program helped lay the foundation for how to think critically and approach day in and day out as an opportunity to learn more.

As I progressed in my career moving into positions of increasing leadership responsibilities, other skills I honed through my Core course work has continued to serve me well.  Whether it was the ability to get up in front of a group and present to audiences of various sizes, calmly debate options with others to determine a course of action, communicate clearly, or assume a new leadership role; my SJC education laid a foundation that has helped me grow well beyond my initial technical focus.  Its not that I don't still use my major skills as I certainly do in daily technical conversations and business applied mathematics (budgets, performance metrics, etc.); but my Core course work has played every bit as large a role in my success.

Any suggestions for current students?

Leverage your professors at SJC to the fullest. The direct access that SJC affords you to professors who are experts in their field is an asset that sets it apart.  I cannot thank my professors enough as each was willing to entertain my endless string of questions and challenges as I worked to grow my skillset.  Don't waste the opportunity to learn from them in both classroom and one on one settings.  Don't limit this interaction to only the professors in your major area.  I learned many things that stick with me to this day from professors I would never have had if not for the Core Program. 

 

 

 

 

 

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