Terrance Curley – Working in Seattle as a Software Engineer

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Terrance Curley
Photo Courtesy of Terrance Curley

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a 22-year-old Software Engineer currently living and working in Seattle, WA. I was born and raised in South Boston and studied Computer Science at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

As a Senior, I interned with Amazon and worked for them at their Seattle headquarters. When I graduated, I accepted a full-time offer for Amazon and made the big move. I’m still adjusting to everything.

Personally, I really enjoy the simple things. I’ve been spending a lot of time cooking lately. I just throw on some good music (another passion of mine) and get to work in the kitchen. There’s something satisfying about a new recipe coming together, and I’m always trying to think of creative uses for leftovers.

How was the Computer Science program at Wentworth Institute of Technology?

Overall I thought the curriculum was great. I feel that it covers all of the necessities, like Algorithms, Data Structures, and Logic / Discrete Mathematics. The content of these courses is pretty standard for a CS program and often uses similar textbooks/course material as top schools like MIT or Stanford. Other courses give some practical experience so that you are comfortable with multiple programming languages and important concepts. Going to a small school is nice because you’ll get to know professors personally, but there are some downsides as well. It can be tough to take the most interesting electives because they’ll fill up really quickly, and you have to build the rest of your schedule around it as well. Additionally, it’s important to figure out which professors are best for you, as they each have their own fortes and teaching styles.

What advice would you give to students in the STEAM field?

You hear this everywhere already, but look for internships! Technical internships are great all-around. Students get to learn through hands-on work while earning money and gaining experience in the industry. And for companies, it’s also one of the best ways to hire full-time employees down the line. Even if you don’t like that particular company, it’s still good work experience, and it’s a good idea to do multiple internships throughout your time in school.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It’s hard to say. I’m not sure if I’ll be coming back to Boston, or if I’ll still be out here. But I definitely enjoy working in tech, it is a booming industry to be in right now and I feel fortunate that I was essentially in the right place at the right time. I don’t have any particularly lofty goals for my career, but I’m focused on constantly learning and working on my skills. I think it’s best to focus on enjoying life while keeping an open mind and looking for ways to learn and experience new things.

Where is your favorite spot in Boston?

I miss Rondo’s sub shop in Southie! I know I’ll need a steak & cheese or a chicken cutlet from there the next time I come back.

What do you like about working in Seattle during your internship?

I loved the area itself. The pacific northwest is a beautiful part of the country, and experiencing a new city was amazing. On the job, I got the chance to work with some great people and really improved my skills. I learned many things from some of the more senior engineers in the team. It was in their best interest to make sure the work I did was up to their quality standards, so I picked up many good coding practices along the way. Because it was a temporary position, it felt fairly stress-free as well. I approached the whole experience with an open mind and was able to do my work well. It was also a great opportunity to make new friends from all over, and Seattle is a fun city to be in.

How’s the work culture in Seattle vs. Boston?

I feel like there are many similarities. Both cities are tech hubs, and so all the biggest companies are present (Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google), but there are also many other smaller tech companies, startups, and universities. Since the job market in the two cities is similar, work culture is pretty similar as well. It seems to be more laid back than if you were working in one of the super-large cities like NYC or somewhere in the bay area. In my experience, it has been pretty easy to maintain a good work-life balance. One difference is that Seattle is very outdoorsy. The mountains are so close that people love to get out whenever they get the chance. It’s especially true during the summer when the weather is perfect over here. That only lasts for a few months and then it’s rain season for the rest of the year. So you’ll meet a lot of people at work who are really passionate about hiking, especially in the summertime. Things definitely seem a bit more laid back when the weather is nice like that.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Seattle?

This is a tough question! There are so many good options, and I like to mix it up all the time. One of my favorite places to grab lunch is Berliner’s Doner Kebabs. Great meat with a kick to it, served on house-baked bread. There are lots of great Vietnamese restaurants in the city as well, Pho Bac is one I check out pretty often.

What advice would you tell your younger self?

Don’t stress! When you’re younger and you only know so much about the world it’s easy to let the little things really get to you. It’s important to develop a mindset that keeps the little bumps in the road from bothering you. Being more carefree helps you focus on the things that are really important to you.

Do you have any tips for interning out-of-state?

Take advantage of it! Try to get out, meet other interns or students, and make some new friends in the area. It’s a great chance to try out new things and enjoy yourself. Plus, you never know where you might end up in the future. Getting to know people during my internship made me much less worried when it came time for the big move, because I already had some great friends in Seattle, and knew my way around the city.


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