Vi TranLe is a woman of many talents.
She manages a band, plans weddings, develops apps, and is an information technology whiz. All of these skills, she said, have similar traits — they all require execution of a well-thought-out plan. “And handling the fires as they come,” said TranLe, a senior in the W. P. Carey School of Business.
She’ll be graduating this year with a degree in computer information systems, marking her 10th year in college — first in community college in California and then transferring to ASU in 2013. “I call it the scenic route of my undergrad,” TranLe said. “It’s nice to see the end of the tunnel.”
Her college career began in San Diego, California, where she planned to focus on business tourism and hospitality management. After earning the credits required to transfer, she packed up and moved to Tempe — for all the wrong reasons, she said — love. The romance ended, but her time in Arizona did not. TranLe realized all that the W. P. Carey School of Business had to offer and she hasn’t looked back.
“It’s one of those things that seem to happen for a reason because now I’m in school and on track toward a wonderful career I would’ve never considered had I not come here when I did,” she said. That’s because majoring in CIS was not on TranLe’s radar.
“Looking back 10 years, ASU and CIS were nowhere near my peripheral vision of career and future,” she said.
A change of plans
It was an introductory CIS class that piqued TranLe’s interest in IT. The class included a Microsoft app development project, and TranLe was hooked. She changed her major and career plans, and committed wholeheartedly.
The Microsoft app project was an exciting challenge. She enjoyed working through the process, starting with an idea and seeing it through to the finish line, including steps for development, implementation, and marketing. Microsoft offered $100 for each app created, and TranLe earned $600 that semester.
The app TranLe created was a kids’ game called “Do You Know Your Colors for Windows 8.” She translated the app into several different languages as well.
“That project kind of outgrew its requirements,” she said. “I ended up staying after class a lot, sometimes even ditching class, to help Microsoft by helping other students get their projects done.”
Her ability to pick up IT quickly and communicate her ideas well caught the attention of Microsoft’s Randy Guthrie, who runs the app project. TranLe said Guthrie became a mentor to her, and she’s helped out every semester since.
The project helped her develop organizational and problem-solving skills — tools she used on the road this summer as tour manager of a competitive drum corps, Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps.
The summer tour took TranLe and the band across the country in five buses for 28 competitions against other corps. The 150-person drum corps, which includes percussion, brass and color guard, relies on TranLe to arrange their travel, food, and lodging, among other responsibilities.
This is her third year managing the corps, after spending the previous seven years as a member playing mallet percussion. TranLe teaches percussion as well, in her free time.
“My limited free time includes more work,” she said jokingly.
To say TranLe has a full plate is an understatement. In addition to school, managing the band, and teaching percussion, she works as a professor’s assistant and grader for CIS Professor Matthew Sopha. She is also a test analyst intern with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
Marching band to club president
This year TranLe will also lead the Department of Information Systems Club (DISC) as its president. The club is a social, professional, and philanthropic organization for students pursuing CIS degrees. TranLe has been a DISC member throughout her time in the W. P. Carey School of Business and was formerly the club’s vice president of corporate relations. The group offers computer classes to the public, works with junior high and high school students to share the importance of IT careers, and networks with major companies.
TranLe said she recommends the club to students because the chance to get to know a hiring recruiter before sitting down for an interview is priceless.
“The opportunity to talk to a recruiter before I meet them at a mixer makes the process less stressful,” she said.
Also, many recruiters for the major IT companies were once DISC members themselves, TranLe said, and know that club members are more involved and well-rounded.
“Companies come to DISC first with the jobs,” she said.
As for TranLe’s job once she graduates, she said she has no plans set in stone yet but feels good about her options. She’s looking for a position that will allow her to use her many talents; IT advisory consulting or project management would be ideal, she said.
“I’m excited for the next step in life,” TranLe said.