Conrad Wiebe Computer Science Alumni
Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?
I am a software architect in the visual effects industry. The software we develop is used worldwide by artists to create images and visual effects for some of the biggest motion pictures. I find this job very rewarding because it allows me to work on complex, multidisciplinary projects. It is very rewarding to see the direct impact our work has on our clients and to see our software used in so many motion pictures. There are many challenges in this profession. I get to work on intricate programming and design problems which present challenges on a technical level. In practice, a lot of challenges in my career are related to communication, organization, managing teams of developers, as well as collaborating with clients. These types of soft skills are an essential part of the job.
What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?
From a young age I have been fascinated by computers and electronics, and always strived to figure out how they worked. I wrote my first video game at age 12 and started doing freelance work writing commercial websites and programs while in high school. I enjoyed it a lot, so I continued with it and my career path slowly evolved.
As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed?
I did not know exactly where my career would end up. I just worked towards getting good at writing software because I knew I enjoyed it, and my career has evolved from there. I expected my career to focus primarily on writing software. Although this was the case throughout much of my career, my responsibilities now focus a lot more on leadership. This new role includes mentoring developers and designing large-scale systems rather than being intimately involved with every small detail of a project.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in computer science?
If you are passionate, or think you would enjoy a career in computer science, I would suggest you take the introduction courses for computer science or try experimenting in programming using online resources. If you find it interesting, continue on with it! Also, the industry is fairly male-dominated at the present time. I would strongly encourage women who have an interest in computer science to pursue this career. The entire field would benefit a lot from a cultural shift to help close the gender gap.
What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?
The University of Manitoba computer science program has a Co-operative Education program. This allows students to do three industry work terms in the area of their choosing. This work experience is immensely helpful in finding a job when students enter the workforce. It also gives students the opportunity to experience different areas of the profession and find out what they like best.