Originally from Guinea-Bissau in western Africa, Jesse is an Auburn alum with a degree in software engineering. His hard work, perseverance, and dedication enabled him to achieve his career goals in the US. With support from Auburn faculty and counselors, and alongside well-connected resources at the College of Engineering, Jesse landed his first full-time job at Oracle as a software engineer!
Find out more about Jesse’s study in the USA experience, his unique perspective on academic growth, and how he built lifelong learning skills at Auburn University.
Jesse’s Family and the Auburn Family
Jesse and his family have a history with Auburn University — he is the second of three siblings to pursue a degree at the university.
“The way I ended up in Auburn was because my sister first came [here],” he said. “She applied to Auburn Global specifically because she was an international student. [Auburn Global] helps international students transition into the university without having a lot of difficulties. They prepare you to improve your English-language level — speaking skills, writing skills, and everything!”
Jesse wanted to pursue a degree in computer engineering, and his sister encouraged him to join her in Alabama.
“She told me — ‘I really recommend you choose Auburn because they have a really good engineering school,’” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I chose to come to Auburn, because Auburn has a really good reputation here in the US.”
Jesse’s positive experience encouraged his younger brother to apply as well, and he is now pursuing a degree in information systems management.
Developing Software Engineering Skills at Auburn University
“When I think of Auburn’s College of Engineering, the first thing that comes to mind is that you have a lot of resources there that will help you succeed,” he said.
Jesse thrived in Auburn’s supportive academic environment, taking advantage of hands-on labs, tutoring, and more.
He also worked on a senior design project, rising to the challenge of fitting team meetings, progress reports, and weekly presentations to faculty on top of an 18-credit courseload. Jesse emphasizes the well-designed curriculum and classes during his freshman, sophomore, and junior years, which prepared him to confidently tackle the extra responsibilities of the senior design project.
Jesse considers participating in campus hackathons among his most valuable experiences. Hackathons encourage students to explore their creative skills and develop innovative applications, all over a short period of time.
“I was working with four other students [at the hackathon],” he said. “It was really exciting just collaborating with other students on a Saturday, which is not like being in a class and working on an assignment. It’s just for fun!”
Building Confidence and Awareness at Auburn’s Career Fair
At Auburn’s Career Fair, students have the chance to explore internship opportunities and part-time or full-time job openings at organizations from different industries. Over the years, Jesse attended career fairs to connect with recruiters and potential employers, and get a better understanding of what he was eligible to pursue. Each year, his confidence grew.
“I really recommend any student to start attending career fairs as soon as you start your freshman year,” he said. “If you go to the Career Fair in your first semester, you can start to get an idea of how [it] works. It just prepares you!”
The Academic Excellence Program (AEP) at Auburn was another resource that helped Jesse work toward his goals. Workshops provided insights on platforms such as LinkedIn, which students can use to search for potential employment opportunities, and also market themselves to prospective employers.
Jesse was enthusiastic and confident, eager to start looking for internship opportunities — but it was not all smooth sailing at first.
Third Time Is the Charm for Oracle
When it was time to apply for internships, Jesse wanted to work at Oracle, but did not progress the first and second time he applied. Being persistent, however, Jesse was not going to give up. With support from his professor, he landed a summer internship for an intensive coding program at Sponsors for Education Opportunity (SEO) for one month. During his time there, Jesse boosted his technical skills and overall software engineering knowledge, giving him a strong preparation for opportunities to come.
When the time came to apply for a full-time role as a software engineer at Oracle, he was more confident about his chances: he had taken the time to upskill and work on his coding skills (a critical part of the selection process). After four rounds of interviews, Jesse made it, and started his Oracle career this summer.
Jesse’s success was the result of a lot of hard work. His perseverance and positive attitude toward any challenge were key contributors toward achieving his dreams.
Jesse’s Advice for International Students
Jesse encourages international students to embrace opportunities, apply what is learned in the classroom to real-life situations, and develop a growth mindset.
For future software engineering students, “begin solving coding problems by the [time] you start taking your first Data Structures and Algorithms course [and] participate in hackathons and/or work on projects that allow you to apply your problem-solving and software engineering skills,” he said. “This will help you prepare for future coding interviews and software engineer roles.”
Curiosity, tenacity, and perseverance are key. “After finishing each interview, I had no idea how I did. I just asked the interviewers,” he said. “That [gave] me more motivation for the next one!”
Like Jesse, there are a wide variety of pathways you can explore at internationally friendly universities with guidance from a Shorelight advisor — no matter what you want to study. With your Shorelight advisor, you never have to go through the process alone: they will support you with choosing a degree, mapping out a career development program, and selecting the right university for you.
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