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Alison Burgess

8/27/2018
English 402

Imagining New Solutions


My current and previous jobs have always required and cultivated imagining new
solutions. When I am working at Coug Tech, my job is to solve technical problems on an array
of personal electronic devices. More often than not, a problem requires a new solution, or a
combination of multiple solutions in order to thoroughly solve a problem. While working at my
internship this summer, my project was to automate tasks for the quality assurance team. There
was limited automation implemented in the QA team, therefore it was at my discretion how I
wanted to handle taking on my new tasks. Because I was one of the first people to dive deep into
the software that allowed for automation, every solution I found was a new solution.

Proposing Ideas
I can easily get stuck in the mindset of having new ideas, but deciding not to share my
them with others, for fear of my ideas being rejected or considered bad. I have been actively
working on sharing my ideas with others, because even if my idea does not work, I still learned
from trying my own solution. I have just begun working at Coug Tech for my second semester,
as I get more experience, I start understanding trends and challenges that come up more often
than others. This has given me the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and take a more
active role in helping seasoned and new employees. At my internship, people had a hard time
accepting that automation was feasible for a vast array of tasks. Because of this, while I was
presenting my ideas, I had to not only propose new ideas, but persuade people of my ideas as
well.
Listening to Others
Being a good listener is a skill that I have had my entire life. My childhood consisted of
asking others a lot of questions about themselves as well as the random questions that would pop
into my head. Because of this, I enjoy listening to others. I feel as if I can learn a lot about my
own life and the directions I want to go, by listening to other’s stories and journeys. At my
internship, I made an effort to get to know all my coworkers, because I can learn coding skills
anywhere, but learning about my coworkers was priceless. I also learn how to avoid mistakes by
listening to others; I do not feel the need to experience everything for myself if I believe the
same outcome will not change. People with direct experience will always know the answer faster
and more reliably than the internet, which is why I consider asking questions and listening to be
an important skill to be comfortable with.

Supporting Others
I believe the success of the group is more important than the success of the individual. I
began learning the clarinet in the fourth grade; music had a different dynamic than any other
activity I had participated. It combines becoming the best you can be, but also finding a balance
within the group. I found it more rewarding to seek leadership roles in the band, because even if I
was the best marcher or player on the field, it would not matter if the group as a whole was
underperforming. My job as section leader was to improve my subgroup, so that the group as a
whole could grow as well. This showed me the importance of supporting others, because it does
not mean that you cannot strive for perfection, it just means that focusing solely on yourself is not
good enough for completing a task. My future will consist of a lot of group projects, so while it
might be tempting to shine as an individual, it will be more worthwhile to succeed as the group in
order to produce balanced a well-rounded solution.

Handling Complaints
While working at Coug Tech, having a satisfied customer is the end goal. Technology
issues can be extremely frustrating and scary in times of high stress. While talking to a customer
face to face or over the phone, I am the face of anything related to WSU tech. Therefore, when
there are major problems, such as a website being down or general frustration over myWSU, I
have to know how to take complaints. I have learned that most people are not personally
attacking me but are simply frustrated. There is a misunderstanding that anyone who knows how
to work tech-stuff, that they can fix any problem. If Coug Tech cannot provide a solution,
knowing how to present the bad news is just as important than being able to fix the problem.
Handling complaints forces me to learn how to deescalate situations as well as find new
solutions for problems that routinely go unfixed.

Taking Independent Action


I think one of my most useful skills is understanding when to take matters in my own
hand. This summer I was a Rho Gam for sorority recruitment, meaning I was essentially a camp
counselor for twenty women going through recruitment. The main reason for having Rho Gams
is so that the Panhellenic Council can disperse responsibilities. There are nine women on the
Panhellenic Council, and over 1100 women who go through recruitment, therefore there is a
necessity to have 60 Rho Gams to handle the smaller details of recruitment. The Council does
not have the time to deal with any issue, therefore it was my responsibility to make judgement
calls and handle in the moment situations. Also, in high school, being clarinet section leader and
woodwind captain meant that I was trusted enough to make smart decisions that would have
positive outcomes. This is why I enjoy having tasks delegated to me, because I know I can make
smart and logical decisions, making someone else’s job easier.

Interacting with People at Different Levels


As section leader in the marching band, my main responsibility was teaching people who
had more, equal, or less experience than myself. Knowing how to interact and relay information
to each of those categories has different challenges. If I have to take charge, I would relay
information to people who had equal or more experience than myself in ways that made me seem
more as an intermediary than as a boss. Whereas for people with less experience than myself, I
treated my role as more of teacher until their individual skill level was improved. This type of
mentality has followed me into Coug Tech as well. Some of my coworkers have a lot more
knowledge than myself, therefore I use them as a resource whenever necessary. For my
coworkers who have less knowledge, I try to make myself available whenever they need my
help.

Thinking in a Logical Manner


I am the type of person where I think with my head over my heart. It can be painful
making hard decisions, but if something has a more logical solution I will choose it over
something I hope works out. In my head I think through thinks step by step, trying to think of all
possible outcomes or areas where things might not go as planned. This type of thinking has been
with me my entire life. I want to find long lasting solutions and I do not know a better way of
making decisions than to just simply think through it in a logical sense. I consider my mind to be
malleable; I have a strong belief in my ideas, but if someone can present logical facts that
challenge my ideas, I am always open to change. I cannot deny facts, so if presented with logical
information, I am comfortable admitting my mistake or ignorance so that I can become more
educated in any type of area I am learning about. I think this mindset makes me an open and
understand person, because even though I have my own beliefs and morals, I am not afraid to try
a new approach if something is not working.

Knowledge of Concepts and Principles


I do not like making decisions or preforming actions without a solid understanding of the
information I am working with. If I say that I can handle a situation or project, I either already
know the concept, or I think I can learn the task at hand. I want to be a software developer;
therefore, I might have a strong technical background in my field, but new projects will still
require active learning. I try to not take responsibilities unless I have a strong support system, or
I know that I am comfortable with the material, or the ability to grow my understanding of the
material. I would rather have the best person be in charge than to have responsibility for the sake
of having responsibility. I like to feel comfortable in my understanding of a topic, before I try to
take charge and present that information to others.

Investigating Problems
I think one of the main reasons why I want to have a profession in coding, is because I
love solving problems. Figuring out why something does not work is so satisfying, because in
my mind, everything has a solution; it might not be easy, or it could be extremely complicated,
but it is still a solution. Growing up, my clarinet teacher always told me that the definition of
insanity is doing the same things over and over but expecting a different result. That is my
complete mindset around problem solving; if something is not working, try something new. This
mentality helps me in every aspect of life, because nothing in life is perfect or easy. Finding new
solutions and fixing problems encourages me to keep learning and to keep becoming the best
person that I think I can become. Plus, at the end of the day, figuring out a seemingly impossible
solution is one of the best feelings in the world.
1013 NE D St.
Pullman, WA 99163

September 7, 2018

Mr. Chris Lakin


Project Manager
1511 3rd Ave #808
Seattle, WA 98101

Dear Mr. Lakin:

As a junior at Washington State University who will be graduating in May 2020 with a Bachelor
of Science, Computer Science; I would like to apply for the position of Security Engineer as your
company has recently advertised on Handshake.com. I am highly interested in this opportunity
because I have had an immense interest in cyber security and my knowledge of software
engineering and cyber security makes me a competitive candidate for this position.

My most recent experience is in software engineering. For twelve weeks in the summer of 2018,
I worked at Symetra Insurance in Bellevue Washington. I was working closely with the quality
assurance team; their role is to test the code that software developers produce. My specific job
was to assess what tasks I thought could be automated for the quality assurance team. I choose to
automate over 1700 security tests; these tests would take two QA’s a total of 80 hours to
complete. After completing the automation scripts, it finishes in about two hours; a QA is only
needed to fill out the initial information and assess the results. Coding with a mindset of
automation is different than in standard software development; it needs code that can handle any
amount of input, or no input, all at the same time. I believe you will find my ability to learn new
tasks and to tackle new mindsets an essential skill that will set me apart from other candidates.

After reading about Security Innovation’s mission statement as well as team culture, I can assure
you it is where I want to take my next career step. Security Innovation is a leader in the industry
for education, as well as, a leader in assessing, creating, and developing new security techniques
and code. I would like to gain experience with the company as well as add to the company’s
success by being a dedicated team player who is open to learning new techniques and methods as
well as, bring in innovative ideas that I have gained through my degree and past work
experiences.

I believe that I can bring new positive ideas to Security Innovation through the Security Engineer
position. I look forward to an opportunity to meet with you further. I am available by telephone
if you would like to discuss my credentials. Feel free to contact me by telephone at (678)-977-
9190 or by email at Alison.burgess@wsu.edu

Sincerely,

Alison Burgess
Alison Burgess
1013 NE D St, Pullman WA, www.linkedin.com/in/alison-burgess1
Alison.burgess@wsu.edu (678) 977-9190
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Education:
Computer Science, Bachelor of Science (In Progress) Graduation: May 2020
Honors College, Washington State University, Pullman WA GPA: 3.33

Coursework:
Program Language Design
 Developed and presented complex programs in a variety of new languages.
 Conducted unit testing to insure my program could handle base cases as well as edge cases.
Data Structures
 Utilized data structures and algorithmic techniques to analyze different algorithmic
solutions to a single problem.
 Facilitated the improvement of existing programs; finding and correcting system errors.
Computer Architecture
 Analyzed various computer and processing system structures for overall productivity and
efficiency.

Technology Summary:
Git Repository: https://github.com/AlisonB319/Code-Samples
Skills: C/C++, C#, Python, ML, Visual Basic, JavaScript
Software: Visual Studio 2015, Visual Studio Code, CLion, Linux Mint 18.1, Ubuntu 18.04

Work Experience:
Symetra Insurance, Bellevue Washington May 2018 – August 2018
Software Design and Test Intern
 Gained hands on experience on a mainframe system where my role was to assess tasks that
had the potential to be automated.
 Created and designed software that automated over 1700 test cases for the Quality
Assurance Team
CougTech Support Services, Washington State University January 2018 – Present
Technical Assistant 1 Customer Service Representative
 Assisted customers by addressing software complications and solving technical issues
ranging from viruses to system maintenance.

Campus Involvement:
Association for Computing Machinery’s - Women in Computing (ACMW) August 2016 - Present
 A community of women dedicated to learning and growing the field of computer science.
 Serving as a role model for younger women currently or contemplating pursuing a future in
computer science.
Palouse RoboSub (Competitive Autonomous Submarine Team) August 2017 – January 2018
 Collaboration with multiple engineering teams; to create dynamic, multi-purpose code.
 Improved teamwork and strategy skills through mentorship, hands on learning, and
cohesive participation.