Andrea Valdivia has not let off the accelerator since declaring two of her three majors and attending a Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) national conference her first semester. She has interned with Ford, GE Healthcare and Goldman Sachs and held leadership positions in SHPE, Upsilon Pi Epsilon, an honors society for computer science students, the Alpha Delta Pi and Order of Omega and the Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO). She will graduate next month with degrees in Computer Science, Global and International Studies (GIST) and Economics and begin work with Goldman Sachs.
“I've been able to better intertwine my interests and make my time at KU a bit more unique,” Valdivia said. “Though many find my three degrees to be very different and unrelated, they are much more correlated than they appear to be. The reality is technology and business initiatives are quite connected within an evolving global economy.”
"Andrea is a very dedicated and motivated student. Her ability to work effectively, both individually and as a member of a team, is impressive," said EECS Professor Arvin Agah.
This past summer Valdivia was a Technology Summer Analyst at Goldman Sachs. As part of the Cross Divisional Projects & Architecture team, she worked on a key business initiative for the firm that required integration with its technology division. She served as a project manager for smaller analysis, testing and integration parts of the project. This summer she will begin a full-time position with the Cross Divisional Projects and Architecture team.
“There have been a number of EECS classes and professors that have helped prepare me for my internships in industry,” Valdivia said. “Specifically, Dr. Agah’s EECS 448 [Software Engineering I] has been the most career-oriented class I have taken at KU. My experience in developing a Nintendo DS game, which was part of EECS 448, is a great conversation starter in interviews. My one-on-one conversations with Dr. [Perry] Alexander, Dr. [Man] Kong, and Dr. [Nancy] Kinnersley have helped guide my academic and career development.”
During her internship with Goldman Sachs, she learned of its growing Hong Kong office. The comment piqued Valdivia’s interest and led her to do some research on the city. After learning of its growing global importance as the financial center of China’s booming economy, Valdivia decided to spend the fall semester in Hong Kong. She was the only student from KU and among five students from the Midwest out of 145 American students at the University of Hong Kong. She has enjoyed explaining that Kansas is more than farms to Chinese and American students.
Valdivia has explored different parts of the main and smaller islands of Hong Kong on the weekends. She and fellow students have ventured into the heart of Hong Kong to eat at restaurants, shop at massive commercial centers, and visit traditional Chinese markets. Valdivia was able to travel to mainland China where she was able to see the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and other historical sites.
"I cannot express how important it is for students to study abroad! It is a rare opportunity that will help you grow and develop as an individual, student, and future professional,” says Valdivia. “You will learn about different cultures and may find a new interest or passion that you would not necessarily find staying in Kansas."
Her high school math teacher, Mr. Sprenkel, first suggested computer science as a major, citing her abilities in math, problem solving, and programming. Valdivia decided to co-major in GIST to set her apart from fellow computer science majors. Her Latin heritage (she is fluent in Spanish) and love of travel also made GIST an appealing major.
She joined the KU chapter SPHE as a freshman. At national conferences, Valdivia met representatives from Fortune 500 corporations along with those from smaller companies. She learned about the various career opportunities for technologists. Her first internship was with Ford Motor Company in the summer of 2008, working in Global Services Delivery to provide IT services for Ford’s Europe and Asia divisions. The next summer she interned with GE Healthcare and was responsible for several projects that revolved around HP platform upgrades. She worked with GE’s Repair & Development Center on component failure analysis in older platforms and helped identify a key solution that would lead to an estimated $1.4 million in savings. She was asked to extend her internship to conduct market research on new software in Kansas City hospitals.
“After my GE internship, I realized having more business/econ knowledge would have helped me better present the importance of my findings on component failures to the business side,” Valdivia said. “Fortunately, I was able to add a degree in Economics while still keeping graduation within five years.”