Opportunities to learn motivate recent grad

As students prepare for graduation and trade in their backpacks and books for business cards, recent graduate Bridget Martin has a message for those students: your education is not over.

Bridget Martin has a message for students who received their degrees at graduation in May: your education is not over.

“Be open to learning, you’d be surprised the opportunities that present themselves when you open yourself up,” said Martin, a December 2014 CIS graduate. Martin  jumped into the working world with both feet, right after graduation, and she’s currently a validation engineer at Intel Corp.

But, she said whether it’s a conversation with a co-worker or being put on a project that she’s not very familiar with, opportunities to gain valuable insight can come from anywhere. Those opportunities present themselves every day on the job, she said.

On the job

Martin-Bridget-alum-300At Intel, Martin is a validation engineer focusing specifically on software security. Once the company creates a product, whether it is hardware or software, it comes to Martin’s team and they test it.

“We put it through the ringer,” she said. “We verify that each of the individual components work as expected and that the system as a whole with all of those ingredients put together work as expected.”

Part of that responsibility is essentially trying to hack software systems.

“My job is literally to hack the system before it’s deployed into the wild,” Martin said. “But we’re the good team, we call ourselves “White Hat Hackers.””

Martin continues to learn and grow in her career and has gleaned some valuable pointers from Intel executives.

“One of the biggest things that I have learned is really to keep an eye out for both positive and negative mentors,” she said.

A presentation by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich left a lasting impression on Martin. He talked about mentoring at a distance and looking for others who can be positive and negative mentors, Martin said. Positive mentors are those Martin would like to emulate.

“There are leaders within Intel who I really, really look up to. I’ve identified various aspects of their leadership style, management style or their technical abilities and those are the positive aspects, those are the things I want to do myself,” she said.

Martin said she had never considered the concept of negative mentors — those whose footsteps Martin doesn’t want to follow but whose mistakes she can learn from.

“Always having an idea of what those positive and negative mentors are is so key,” she said. “It’s a good navigational guideline.”

Finding a path

Martin discovered that she was interested in software security relatively late in her college career, and ironically, the class that lit the light bulb was in accounting.

Martin’s original plans didn’t include computers, accounting or security. She thought she would study chemical and electrical engineering. After exploring her options, she discovered the CIS degree program, and loved how it would be applicable in all fields.

She had delayed taking a required accounting class until her senior year. What could a 7 a.m. class about balance sheets and bank statements teach her that would be useful for her CIS degree, she thought. She was surprised to find that Professor Perseus Munshi’s course was about designing and navigating complex, digital accounting systems. The security of those systems piqued her interest and fell right in line with her CIS focus.

“Being able to get something so amazing out of the class, in such an unexpected place — there are situations like that on a daily basis,” Martin said.

She specifically recalls a moment in class when Professor Munshi explained the Heartbleed bug, a software virus that came out in April 2014, and its implications. Martin was hooked.

“I was so intrigued and had to understand how it happened and what can be done to prevent vulnerabilities like this in the future. I don’t want my data stolen. I must learn how to protect it and protect others’,” she said.

The CIS curriculum prepared her well for the corporate world, Martin said, adding that all of the W. P. Carey programs excel in this area.

“I like to say that a CIS degree goes with any other degree that you’re doing at W. P. Carey. Whatever it is, CIS goes with everything,” Martin said. “What really attracted me to the CIS program at W. P. Carey was the beautiful understanding that they give you of the business side of things.”

Martin interned with Intel and the company offered her a full-time position after she graduated. The technology company was putting together a new security team and Martin jumped at the chance to work on projects that would allow her to use many of her multidisciplinary skills.

Post grad to professional

Now that Martin has left college behind and is a working professional, she said she feels like she has more time for her hobbies and to spend quality time with her husband, who is also an Intel engineer, and their two English bulldogs — their “fur babies.”

“Now that I’m at work full-time, it feels like I have more time, but at the same time I almost spend it all at work. I very much love what I do and I’m in early and work late,” she said.

Martin’s creativity and love of design follows her home — she has designed and is building an ottoman and an automated laser light dog toy. “I’m what they call a maker. I enjoy making and designing and building things, all kinds of things.”

In addition to her academic and intellectual growth, Martin grew personally during her time at ASU. Her advice to soon-to-be graduates is to be open to new situations and opportunities and to keep learning and growing.

“Go into every situation optimistically engaged. You don’t know where your passion is until you engage with it.”