Each week we spotlight an OMSCS TA, so you can get to know who's behind the screen. Here are four questions for Kelly Parks, who specialized in computing systems and TAs CS 6340: Software Analysis.
What do you do professionally?
I’ve been an application developer in the life insurance division at Pacific Life for a little over two years. I work on team building web-based interface and web services that connect to the policy administration system. These help our associates place new business and administer existing policies. Before coming to Pacific Life, I was a developer/systems engineer on a network monitoring team at SWIFT for four years.
Why do you TA for OMSCS?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher and went into college planning to do the education program and major in math. I took some computer science classes as part of the math degree and ended up getting hooked. Instead of education, I added computer science as a double major and went into software development. Although I no longer wanted to do it full-time, my interest in education was still there. My main motivation for doing OMSCS was to open the door to teach part-time at a community college in the future. When I learned about the opportunity to TA for OMSCS, I was really excited to be able to get involved with such a great program in a teaching capacity. Fall 2019 will be my 10th semester as a TA and my seventh with CS6340 Software Analysis. I definitely enjoy interacting with the students, but also want to give a big shout out to our awesome instructor/TA team who play a big role in my decision to stay for so long (with no plans to leave anytime soon!).
What's your advice for future students in OMSCS?
Don’t procrastinate! Especially if you’re not used to taking online classes, it can be easy to get behind with the lectures and assignments. Try to stick to the recommended schedule as much as possible because once you’re behind it can be hard to catch up and you don’t want to be stuck trying to watch a bunch of lectures the week before the exam. Also, try to start on assignments as soon as they’re assigned, even if it’s just reading over the instructions and provided resources a few times to get familiar with it. Sometimes you just need to take a break and come back later with a fresh mind to have a breakthrough on a project, which can be hard to do if you’re trying to do the whole project the weekend before it’s due. Your fellow students and TAs are also great resources when you can’t get unstuck by yourself. Especially in classes that have early morning deadlines, you won’t always be able to find someone available to answer questions right up to the deadline. In order to get the best level of help, I definitely recommend asking for help as early as possible and making sure to ask clear and specific questions.
What hobby or activity are you looking forward to getting back to once you're done with OMSCS?
I’m answering this one in retrospect since I’ve been an alumna TA for the past two years. I’ve enjoyed continuing to TA, and it has definitely been great not to have to worry about competing deadlines from my own classes. My husband and I relocated and bought our first house right before I graduated so we’ve had some house projects. I’ve gotten back into playing the piano and have been playing regularly at a local cancer center. I’ve also been working on some website design projects.