Rutgers was a good fit for Josh Rochotte, and SC&I is proud to claim him as a double alumnus. After majoring in Information Technology and Information (ITI) and Psychology, Josh completed a Master of Information (MI) degree in 2018. As a product manager at Medidata Solutions, he is responsible for supporting Medidata’s RBQM suite of applications, focusing on risk detection and workflow management. He also supports the development of Medidata Detect’s data science algorithms. Josh took the time to share details of his work and how SC&I helped shape his present and future.
SC&I: Tell us about your work and how your studies at SC&I prepared you.
JR: I work with a team of world-class engineers, UX designers, consultants, and testers to develop software that gets used by medical device, pharmaceutical, and life sciences companies who perform clinical trials on their investigational products. The ITI and MI programs at SC&I gave me a real appreciation for the complexities of information and taught me how vital it is to start understanding and building better information infrastructure. Drawing on what I learned, I help drive successful development Initiatives in anomaly and risk detection, clinical data management, and virtual monitoring. The ITI 210 class served as a significant beginning step in agile product and software development and let me understand how tech organizations work. This class then led me to seek certification in the scrum alliance and is inspiring me to want to teach and become a certified scrum trainer in due time. My MI classes further supported the depth of knowledge I get to leverage every day.
SC&I: What ITI and MI classes and instructors had the most impact on you?
JR: I have learned so much from every professor I’ve had, and several professors and classes have shaped me into the career-minded individual I have become. Associate Professor of Library and Information Science Vivek Singh gave me strong guidance in data science and social informatics through masters’ courses in big data analytics and problem-solving with data. I also had the privilege of working with Professor Singh in the Behavioral Informatics Lab, igniting my intellectual curiosity and passion for research. We continue to correspond as I prepare to apply to the doctoral program in Information Science. I’ll also never forget part-time lecturer Connie Pascal, Ph.D., who taught my section of ITI 210, Management of Technological Organizations. This course shaped me as a product manager and allowed me to see what the unique world of product development had to offer as a career.
SC&I: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
JR: The best advice I ever received is a simple four-word statement: be a unicorn employee. As someone who has always been deeply interested in technology and maintains a child-like curiosity about all things, I find the unicorn a symbol of happiness and fulfillment (and am pleased that my managers have called me one on several occasions). Being a unicorn employee means you wear many hats and possess a diverse set of skills that allow you not to be married to a job description. You can go beyond the confines of your role and move into the next position. Plus, it’s a little extra reason to be fabulous.
SC&I: What advice would you like to share with current or prospective students?
JR: I had a large set of options open to me based on my chosen courses of study. Looking just at ITI, there are specializations within cybersecurity, database design, hardware support, networking, data science, and so much more. My biggest advice for current students is to try things out. Get out there and apply yourself. Take an extra class in some passion subject of yours because you might be able to do a job in an exciting industry based on that domain experience. You can be a librarian working for the Walt Disney Archives, a programmer building a fitness app, or a security specialist working in a university. Apply your major in unique or exciting ways because you may be able to create a job for yourself that has never existed. If I had to give my younger self advice, I would have pushed myself towards ITI and data science sooner and not wasted my freshman and sophomore year in biology, chemistry, or calculus classes.