June 18, 2012
SEATTLE - Husky rower Tom Lehmann capped off his senior year with a gold medal at the IRA National Championships in the Open 4+. Lehmann will continue to work toward his degree in Computer Science & Engineering this fall, becoming just the second Husky rower (Brett Newlin was the other) to complete the demanding major as a student-athlete. Recently, GoHuskies.com correspondent Seamus Labrum sat down with the oarsman from Rovershagen, Germany, to find out more about his academic experience as well as future plans.
GoHuskies: What sparked your interest in the Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) major?
Lehmann: In Spring 2011, I was still a math major with practically no hands-on experience. I figured that in order to get a job outside of research it would definitely be helpful to know how to apply the skills that I learned during my studies. I took CSE 142, which is more or less the intro to Computer Programming. I ended up liking it so much that after the first week of class I started looking for chances to get into the major. Luckily, many of the math classes I'd taken satisfied CSE requirements and it wasn't impossible for me to still get into the major although I was technically already at the end of my junior year.
GoHuskies: What was most challenging about the major?
Lehmann: Once I got into the major, I quickly realized that it required more than just the pure interest in problem solving to succeed. It was not just attending classes and doing weekly class assignments, but also countless hours in the labs with many failed attempts at writing working code and in discussion with other students to improve my skill set and become a better programmer. I remember a professor in one of my first CSE classes saying that in order to succeed in the major you have to live and breathe it. That was probably the hardest lesson to learn since it forced me to cut down on other activities.
GoHuskies: Did you ever have any conflicts with rowing?
Lehmann: There were many nights that I spent in the labs working out solutions to class assignments and I didn't get as much sleep as I needed. It was often a grind that involved attending classes during the day, going to practice in the afternoon, then training table, and afterwards right back into the labs. In order to be a good rower you have to invest [many] hours into practice to improve and the same applies to Computer Science, so it was sometimes hard to balance these two big commitments.
GoHuskies: How has the major helped you secure an internship?
Lehmann: One of the great benefits of the UW's CSE Department is its close relationship to all kinds of companies, ranging from major players like Microsoft and Amazon to the smallest start-ups. There are many events in the department where you have the chance to meet people from the business, learn how to interview, and figure out what kinds of jobs are out there. On top of that, a CSE degree from the UW is highly recognized in the whole country, so that helped me to get interviews.
GoHuskies: What internships were available to you and which have you chosen?
Lehmann: I applied to various positions and had many interviews, especially during Spring Break. I ended up accepting an internship with eBay in their Redmond offices as an intern in data analysis, data structures, and algorithms.
GoHuskies: What are your future plans and goals?
Lehmann: I want to finish my studies with four more classes to go and hopefully land a job right out of college. If that works out and I can get a company to help me finance my visa, I would like to stay in the U.S. Seattle is a great area for Computer Science, but I definitely want to see more of the U.S. and the world so I don't know yet where I will end up.