An Unplanned Path
Major: B.S. Informatics, 2016
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Why she came to Bloomington: I fell in love with the campus
Sometimes life doesn’t take you where you expect to go.
Take Michelle Rollin, for instance. When she followed in the footsteps of her father and sister to attend IU, she had her future mapped out in her mind. She would go to the Kelley School of Business, graduate with her degree in four years, and start her business career.
There was one problem.
“When I started studying business, I realized I didn’t have a passion for what I was learning in my classes,” Rollin says. “So after my freshman year, I researched all the majors IU offered, and I came across informatics. I looked into the classes I would have to take for the major, and it all sounded really interesting.”
Rollin hadn’t grown up with a passion for technology, either, but the opportunity to step into a growing field while still having the chance to keep in touch with her business dreams was too good to pass up. After taking an introductory course to get her feet wet, Rollin fell in love with informatics.
“My favorite part about informatics has been learning Human Computer Interaction design, and the electives are great,” says Rollin, who has both a minor and cognate in business. “They are fun and very hands-on. You learn things you never thought you would.”
For someone who had never done any computer programming and wasn’t really comfortable with the technical aspect of computers, Rollin initially was a bit intimidated by the direction she was taking. Fortunately, that feeling didn’t last long.
“I was concerned at the beginning, but I was told that they like students to come in without any prior experience,” Rollin says. “That made me feel more comfortable going into things without any prior knowledge with computers or coding.”
She also was helped by the tight community that is a hallmark of the School of Informatics and Computing. Rollin shared classes with a number of the same people, and she didn’t feel like she was alone on her journey.
“When I went into a class, I knew probably half the people in the class,” Rollin says. “It’s still that way. Everybody is open to helping each other, especially when it comes to learning programming languages. A lot of people are open to reaching out to one another and asking for help. The same goes for the faculty. The professors are very open to helping the students. They want the students to succeed.”
Rollin has surprised herself along the way. For instance, she didn’t think she would enjoy programing much–“Going into it, I thought I would hate it,” she says–but that hasn’t been the case.
“It is fun,” Rollin says. “It’s like a puzzle that you have to figure out.”
Rollin spent her summer as an intern at GE Appliances, and she hopes to land a job in the IT field or as a user experience designer. She also has tackled a role as an ambassador for the school where she talks to a lot of prospective students who are in the same place she was a few years ago.
“A lot of them say they’re worried they won’t like learning how to code,” she says. “But it’s a lot different than what people think. Go in with an open mind, and don’t be afraid of learning technical things. There’s a lot here for you.”