After two short years at Hofstra University, Kirt Gittens packed his bags and stepped through the threshold of full-fledged adulthood. He accepted his first full-time position at the age of 19 and has been happily working in the tech industry ever since.
Walk me through your career path. What experiences have led you to where you are today?
Before I graduated high school, I had already been involved in working on my own personal software projects as a hobby. Since I had some experience and wanted to get started early, while I was in my first year at Hofstra, I took an internship at a company called Dealertrack. My internship went pretty well and it definitely seemed like the kind of work I wanted to keep doing, so I decided to talk to my manager to see if I could work part-time there during school. They ended up ultimately deciding to bring me on as a full-time employee there a few months later. I worked there for about 2 years as a Software Engineer before I moved on to my current role at Web.com.
What has been your most memorable professional experience and what did you learn?
I spoke at a tech conference last year and that was definitely one of my most memorable career experiences. It was incredibly stressful submitting and preparing a talk, but it felt like a great accomplishment to finally be able to present the information. I feel like I learned a lot about how to give an effective presentation.
You also have a passion for music. What experiences have you had with that?
I haven’t had the chance to do as much with music as I would like. My only recent substantial experience was a small performance for an event at Hofstra, but I’m planning to do more in the coming months. You can find my music here.
Looking back, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
I would definitely like to finish school, and I do sometimes think that it might have been better to finish first.
What would you look for in an intern or entry-level employee?
I’m not a hiring manager, but I would say that based on my own experience when looking for internships, I think demonstrating that you’re interested in learning and excited about what you’re going to be doing has been key to moving forward.
What advice do you have to offer for those graduating in the next few months?
My career situation is definitely very specific, but I would encourage anyone graduating to further their career knowledge outside of the traditional classroom settings, and if applicable, work on your own personal project that demonstrates your career skills (it’s useful for both learning, and your portfolio).
How can people connect with you?
Thanks for the great advice, Kirt!