Kaitlyn Hanrahan of Northeastern University is a good student. She does not just want to be, she knows that she has to be. As a young woman in the male dominated field of computer and information science, Hanrahan has taken advantage of Northeastern’s experiential education model to add real-life work experience to her studies. The senior knew her efforts paid off when Adobe Systems, Inc. asked her to join the company upon graduation.
“Girls in computer science are not allowed to be average”, said Hanrahan, who was once told by her high school computer club that it may not be of interest to her since she’s a girl. “People will look at you and assume that you can’t write or that you can’t program. There is a stereotype for girls in computer science and you really have to fight that.”
Since then, Hanrahan has built up a stellar resume through her co-op experiences, working full time for three semesters alternating with her semesters of academic studies. Her Adobe job offer is a result of one of these co-op semesters that she had spent at the San Diego, CA company. For six months, Hanrahan demonstrated her computer science skills while working as a software engineer for Adobe. She designed and built interfaces for testing software tools, impressing the company to invite her back.
Prior to working at Adobe, Hanrahan took advantage of Northeastern’s international co-op program spending the summer in Milan. At Pramerica Life, Prudential’s European counterpart, the computer science/information science dual major worked as a system analyst, finding ways to help the company run more efficiently.
Hanrahan dedication to push herself toward excellence in what she loves to do motivated her to encourage others to do the same. In her freshman year, she co-founded CISters, a student group dedicated to fostering interest in computer science among women. CISters supports women already in the field and promotes a diverse image in the technology industry. As the 22-year-old New Jersey native puts it, “We only get a few girls in computer science every year and we hope to encourage more females to look at computer science as a viable college major and career.”
Hanrahan is also active in NUACM, Northeastern’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. She served as president last year and is taking a behind-the-scenes role this year as special projects chair. “The student groups are one of the best things about being at NU,” remarked Hanrahan.
Aside from her classes and extracurricular activities, Hanrahan is teaching a student seminar this semester in the flash-based framework program, Flex, and working on her senior project