Josiah Krutz is proof that opportunities, career experience, and networking opportunities, even those originating in Silicon Valley, can be found right here in Omaha.
Krutz is now a software engineer for Google working on accessibility features designed for people with disabilities, making the Google Chrome web browser and Chromebook laptops easier to use. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in 2017 with an undergraduate degree in computer science with a minor in cybersecurity. Thanks to the 4+1 program offered by the United Nations College of Information Science and Technology (IS&T), he was able to obtain his master’s degree in computer science a year later.
“A lot of the coursework, especially in computer science, overlapped between the bachelor’s program and the master’s program, so I could often complete both requirements in one class,” Krutz said. “In case having a master’s would be useful in the future, I wanted to go now, and also be able to experience some of the advanced classes UNO had to offer.”
“UNO not only provided me with a great academic background to do software engineering at a startup and at Google, but it also gave me opportunities to work with others on projects and as part of a team.”
The UNO and the College of IS&T provided Krutz with contacts not only to professors and software development professionals, but also to UNO professionals and alumni already working in the industry. In fact, mock interviews held at the UN’s Peter Kiewit Institute with former students working at Google led to his internship experience and eventual career with Google. He credits them with helping him get his foot in the door – a step he says is more easily accessible than people think. “There’s a myth that you have to go to an Ivy League school to get a job at Google or any of the other tech companies, but that’s not true,” he said. “The same fundamentals are taught here as in the other places, and for much less expense.
He values these relationships because he still maintains contact with the professors and mentors who have helped him achieve his academic and professional goals. Krutz mentioned that he still visits campus from time to time and will usually meet with professors or advisers who helped him during his time at the UN.
“I liked the friendliness and approachability of IS&T and PKI faculty,” he said. “I really got to know a few of them, both from the IS&T side and the College of Engineering side, and it’s always a pleasure to walk through the halls and see a lot of the staff and friends that I made myself here.”
Krutz had the opportunity, as part of a symposium in the University Honors Program, to work alongside Gina Ligon, Ph.D., now Director of the National Center for Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology and Education (NCITE) at the UN, on countering violent extremism projects. . “UNO really gave me perspective on different things you could do with IT or cybersecurity and helped me narrow down what I really wanted to work on,” he said.
Although he landed a job at one of the nation’s biggest tech companies, Krutz didn’t have to move to Silicon Valley for his job. Krutz works remotely for Google, which has allowed him to stay close to family, community and the UN. When asked if he would encourage others to go to the UN, he shared that he once encouraged his brother to be a maverick.