Jane Okada, a SUNY Oswego student from Japan, earned academic and professional achievements –- and a job with a well-known website –- through her college years.

The computer science major earned a summer internship with Ancestry.com which will turn into a full-time job.

Okada has found ways to get involved beyond the classroom, including with the Women in Computing club, as a teaching assistant for the “Principles of Programming” course and as an academic tutor. 

Despite her impressive college portfolio though, Okada claims she felt aimless in her career aspirations when starting out. 

“I’d kind of just been going in different directions, figuring out what I wanted to do….not really focusing on one thing,” she recalled. All Okada knew for sure was that she was interested in studying cognitive science, which ultimately led to her decision to attend SUNY Oswego since none of the other colleges she looked at had it as a major. 

Okada quickly found her footing when she took an “Introduction to Computer Science” course, which she described as "fun" and immediately appealed to her.

“It involved stuff that I like,” said Okada. “It’s got logical thinking and you also need a little creativity in it. It gave me a direction.” 

This would eventually lead her to the Ancestry internship, where she was able to work in person at their headquarters in Utah and garner a wealth of professional knowledge in a short time. 

“Being in that work environment and learning how everything flows, how people communicate with each other, more coding stuff like just how to manage such a huge code base” were among the opportunities she soaked in, Okada explained. Along with this treasure trove of experience, Okada’s favorite aspect was just being able to interact with other interns within her group and form those essential social connections.

Okada said her favorite club, Women in Computing, provided a support group as computer science is traditionally a typically male-dominated field. The club was a safe space that allowed for her and various others' perspectives to be properly heard and seen. 

For life after college, Okada looks forward to returning to Ancestry to work as an Android developer. The company offers the great amount of flexibility that comes with software development. 

Until then, Okada can look forward to Commencement on May 14 while preparing for the next step on her journey.

-- Written by Bryce Levac of the Class of 2023