The Tip Jar: Kirt Gittens, Software Engineer

Tip Jar

k3After 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

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?

Twitter: @its_regz

Websites: //

Thanks for the great advice, Kirt!

The Year of the Rooster and the Weekend of the Pizza Butt Tattoo


Senior year… it’s a lot. It’s a time where anyone can become overwhelmed by anxiety-inducing thoughts of job hunting, apartment searching, homework, capstone projects, internships, extracurricular activities, and everything else that could possibly be going on. Those are the things I could go on about forever, but I don’t want to do that. Instead, I’d like to talk about my weekend, which resulted in a rejuvenated mental space and significant drop in blood pressure.  

I owe this weekend to my best friend from home, who graciously drove through the insidious traffic of I-95 just to see me. We’ve known each other for about six years now and while I’d say I know most every detail about him, I also know to expect the unexpected when it comes to our plans together.

The weekend began with a night out with friends. I corralled some of my favorite people and we spent the evening playing Jenga, Battle of the Sexes, Spoons and a variety of card games. It was a small gathering with a limited itinerary, but I loved every second of it. I wasn’t focusing my attention on strategically planning one thing from the next, which meant I could focus on what really mattered – my friends.

After a late night of socializing (and asserting my dominance as Spoons Champion,) my friend and I woke up questioning what the day had in store. Admittedly, I was a bit anxious not having a solidified plan by 1pm, but I did my best to roll with the punches. “Maybe I’ll get a tattoo,” he said. I looked at him with puzzled eyes, waiting for what would come out of his mouth next. “Maybe I’ll get a pizza slice… on my butt.” By that time, I didn’t really know where to start with my questioning or if I should even bother trying to understand at all, so again, I rolled with the punches and we set out for another spontaneous day. He did end up getting the tattoo and for a while I thought he was crazy. It taught me something though. Everyone’s definition of happiness is different and no two people live the same life. He came to New York for an experience and boy, did he get one. A permanent one. On his butt. Still, I applaud him for living so freely.

I woke up the next day feeling a little more relaxed, simply because there was one solid plan in the day’s foundation. If you can’t tell by now, I’m a bit eccentric with time and schedules and the desire to know what’s going to happen at any given second of the day. (I’m working on it, truly I am – and this blog post is a testament to that.) We took a train into the city around noon and showed our support at the “Not My Presidents’ Day” rally at Trump Tower. Of course, we didn’t make signs, because even that was deemed too organized for my friend, so we brought nothing but our fists and voices. It was an inspiring event that I could reminisce about for hours, but I’ll save that for another post. After leaving the rally, the rest of our day was free. We walked around aimlessly through Central Park and in any direction we felt would elicit interest. In total, we walked more than 90 blocks, which worked well for my friend because he was too sore to sit much anyway.

Without realizing it, this spontaneous, unplanned weekend gave attention to most all of the big rocks in my life. By big rocks, I mean the most important facets of my life, the facets that sadly sometimes get ignored.

I spent time with some of the most important people in my life. I enjoyed nature both on Long Island and in New York City. I protested for a cause that feels significant to me. I watched some random dude shave my best friend’s butt. I took a deep breath and relaxed. On any given day, I try to organize my rocks in a structured, effective way, but rarely do they get the attention they deserve. When I allowed myself to go with the flow and enjoy the moment, I found the things I really care about found me in almost magnetic force. It was a really good weekend and made me appreciate so much of what I have in my life. I may not be getting a new tattoo anytime soon, but I definitely hope to live a little more freely. I challenge you all to do the same.

Image result for cartoon pizza slice with glasses

(P.S. This was the tattoo inspo, which was quite literally found on Google Images an hour before the appointment.)

Thanks to 2016, I Found My Sense of Purpose

Blog, Environment, Personal

As human beings, we all partake in interesting rituals and follow social contracts that seem only natural to us. New Years, for example, has become a time to reflect on the chapter we prepare to close, as if the date and time on a clock indicate a separation of past and present. It’s funny how simply shifting from one day to the next invites a barrage of “New Year, new me” posts, promises and resolutions. Well, here’s mine:

This past year has been a whirlwind, filled with tumultuous events that I believe have only made me wiser. 2016 has taught me a lot, and while much of this year has elicited negative emotions, it has also given me the greatest gift of all: a sense of purpose.

Behind the Curtains of the First Presidential Debate

Blog, Uncategorized

On September 26, 2016, Hofstra University had the privilege of hosting a third consecutive presidential debate. With just two months to prepare, the university had a lot to do and very little time to do it. That’s where I came in. I was one of the lucky 300 students chosen to assist in this monumental, historic event. I was allowed to see both sides of the coin, something very few people could see. Most watched the debate on their couches at home, thinking little of what went on to make it all happen. I had the ability to be apart of the action, then watch it all unfold on screen.


The Tip Jar: Maddie Michalik’s Toy Story

Blog, Tip Jar

Imagine sharing an office with hundreds of toys and games. Better yet, imagine getting to play with all of them on a daily basis.

For Maddie Michalik, this dream became a reality when she landed the job everyone grows up wanting to have. I had the pleasure of interviewing Maddie to learn more about her toy-tastic career, so take a look at what may be the coolest job ever:

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 3.42.05 PM

Where do you work and what is your position?

“I work at Adventure Publishing Group as an assistant editor. I write, lay out, and edit articles for leading trade publications The Toy Book and The Licensing Book. I am the lead editor of The Toy Book’s blog and weekly newsletter. I also report on news and trends, and write weekly product reviews for The Toy Insider, an online consumer website for gift givers. We also produce two holiday gift guides, an online spring/summer gift guide and a print holiday guide in Family Circle magazine. Last, we host two events, Blogger Bash and Holiday of Play, which connect press and digital influencers with the brands they love most!”

“Ghostbusters” Remake Pays Homage To Women In Media

Blog, film

After seeing the “Ghostbusters” remake last night, I left the theater feeling more excited than usual. The film isn’t just a nostalgic rendition of a spooky, slapstick comedy. It’s a statement for women everywhere. “Ghostbusters” packs an all-star cast of kickass women who display strength, charisma, and intelligence- traits rarely seen by women in the television and film sectors.



Blog, TV

Unless you’re a computer guru, you’re probably not interested in coding or hacking. Maybe you’re not even sure what basic HTML is. Those skills might not be for you, but that’s okay. Instead, I can offer a promising TV recommendation that will either open your eyes to what technology can do or foster a swift career change to the tech field.

I’m talking about “Mr. Robot”, a show that forces its audience to rethink everything they’ve ever known about technology, power, and life. It’s darkly chilling and cinematically beautiful. The show is a masterpiece.

Summer in the City

Blog, Personal

After weeks of searching through what felt like an infinite number of sketchy craigslist ads, it was a wonderful feeling to finally open the door to my very first apartment. Everything about this place is perfect, which was made clear to me from the very start. The space is 400 square feet of unique personality and is closely situated to inviting restaurants, shops, the subway, and even a beautiful park right on the water. Living here feels like I found my own personal pot of gold.

Then + Now: Where My VH1 Internship Has Taken Me

Blog, Personal

In two short semesters, I’ve learned more about life and living than I ever have before. This journey has even led me to my greatest accomplishment to date, but I’ll start from the beginning:

Working with VH1 (which has since become VH1 + Logo TV) was not just my first internship in the city. It was my first encounter with the hustle and bustle of Times Square. It was my first attempt at navigating a subway system. It was my first contemplation of “How the hell am I going to afford the monthly Long Island commute!?” My internship experience brought on the first of many things.