When Sabur Khan ’22 first considered a career in software engineering, his professor and mentor John Mulholland weighed in: There’s a lot more to it than just coding. The process of designing a product or web application involves people skills, such as interviewing customers, and deep thinking away from the computer. Because Khan values work-life balance and variety, his professor’s insight helped him decide to major in Computer Information Science and concentrate on software engineering.

Khan witnessed the importance of people skills during his summer internship at cloud computing company VMware, an opportunity he found through the St. Edward’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4). The i4 partners with companies working on projects related to the fourth industrial revolution, which merges the physical, digital and biological spheres, and offers paid internships funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Khan had numerous virtual meetings with his mentor, colleagues in the department and even the CEO. The experience required him to overcome his natural introversion.

“Pushing myself into uncomfortable experiences in my internship helped me open up more as a person and become more communicative,” he says. It paid off: VMware offered Khan a full-time position after graduation.

Khan is interested in backend software engineering, which focuses on the structural side of web applications. He’s learned backend engineering fundamentals through an Advanced Java Bootcamp course offered by Netflix in partnership with St. Edward’s. “It’s teaching me a lot of hands-on skills and industry-standard tools,” Khan says.

He’s also completing, with a partner, his senior project: a guide for prospective investors that compiles financial information from the web about companies on the stock market. The project marries Khan’s ongoing interest in business with his major in Computer Information Science.

To let off steam, Khan works out at the gym, plays soccer in a men’s league and goes hiking, especially on the Barton Creek Greenbelt near downtown and the Brushy Creek Regional Trail near his house. He’s also a bit of a thrill seeker. He rides a motorcycle — “a mood-booster,” he calls it. And on warm weekends, he’ll go cliff jumping with friends at nearby Inks Lake State Park. The adrenaline rush is an antidote to the long hours he spends studying.

“I work so hard,” he says, “and in these moments I can let everything out and feel free.”

Story by Robyn Ross
Photography by Chelsea Purgahn