Gator News

GRC software development grad Alex Ball talks life at Costco

By Andy Orr, program manager, BAS in Software Development, January 23, 2018

hen he began attending Green River College in the fall of 2012, Alex Ball had a clear goal in mind: earn an associate degree, then transfer to a four-year university. After completing a course in Java programming, however, Ball’s plans took an interesting turn.


“One of my very first programming classes was Java 1,” he recalls. “The instructor suggested that I meet with Ken Hang to learn more about Green River’s bachelor of applied science in software development. After meeting with Ken, I was really excited to apply for the program.”

While pursuing his bachelor’s degree locally at Green River, Ball worked on a number of real-world software projects. He helped build a mobile app for car enthusiasts, created a Unity game, and developed websites for a variety of course clients. Green River’s focus on Agile Scrum also provided valuable exposure to Agile development methodologies.

“I developed several skills at Green River, but the big one was communication. I am shy and it used to be hard to communicate effectively. Getting to work with other students on real-world software projects with Agile Scrum really helped, especially when we had to present our accomplishments on a regular basis.”

Building a strong portfolio of work and getting Agile exposure helped Ball land back-to-back summer technical internships at Costco, where he now works full-time as a Software Developer. Investing time and energy into landing an internship is something Ball recommends highly to college students.

“Getting an internship at Costco made it a lot easier to get a full-time job at the company. An internship gives you a chance to meet people and find out what they do. I suggest applying for a variety of teams. Once you’re in, you can not only work with your assigned team, you can also visit other teams and get experience job shadowing. You are not just getting work experience during an internship, you are making connections with others. I now work with the team that I interned with during the Summer of 2016.”

Bachelor’s degree in tow, Ball, Class of ’17, couldn’t be happier working as a Software Developer at one of the world’s largest retailers.

“The culture here at Costco is awesome! It is fairly relaxed in the office, and there have been more and more teams adopting Agile methodologies. My role as part of the Enterprise Automation Solutions team is to help other teams use automation to improve processes. I help administrate build, deployment, and source control tools. I also write scripts that make manual tasks easier and faster.”

New college student to Enterprise Solutions Intern to college graduate to Identity Access Management Intern to Software Developer. Ball’s story, like a block of well-crafted code, hangs together with a quiet, logical elegance. It also offers a blueprint of success for college students, while demonstrating the role community colleges play in helping regional tech grow its workforce.

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