The Data Integration (DI) Platformers team welcomed Michael Berther in fall 2021 as a data engineer intern. Michael is a junior at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee majoring in computer engineering. He grew up close to Milwaukee in New Berlin, Wisconsin and attended New Berlin Eisenhower High School.
The team is excited to have Michael onboard and can’t wait to watch him grow throughout his career in computer engineering. Here’s a little bit more about Michael!
Q: Why did you want to pursue an internship with Northwestern Mutual?
A: Northwestern Mutual has a great company culture and is a fantastic place for career growth and learning. I had a friend that interned at Northwestern Mutual, so I learned a lot about the company through him. It is important to me to work with an uplifting team that really supports me and based on my friend's experience, I felt confident I could find that at Northwestern Mutual.
Q: How did you hear about this internship position?
A: I used the Handshake website and Northwestern Mutual had several positions posted that caught my eye. Ironically, the position I’m in now is one that I didn’t apply for, but after my initial phone interview for the data science internship, they recommended me for the data engineering internship position.
Q: What are you hoping to get out of this experience?
A: I hope to learn more about how big data is organized, utilized, and developed in a large company. Without hands-on experience in the big data industry, it can be difficult to understand how big data works. I am doing work that a level 1 engineer does and gaining this insight has been such a valuable experience.
Q: What type of projects have you been working on?
A: Recently, I have been working with a Structured Query Language (SQL) software, which allows me to manipulate different data sets. I’m running insert statements from the case management subject area into the database and giving the data a date parameter so that when the data updates, it updates according to its given parameter.
Q: Does your work at Northwestern Mutual correlate with what you are doing at school?
A: It’s slightly different because I’m a computer engineering major, which is half computer engineering and half electrical engineering. In half my classes I design electrical circuits which is unrelated to the work I do here, but the other half of my classes are programming classes which correlate a lot with my work here. I had a class that was dedicated to learning the software we use at Northwestern Mutual for our projects and tasks, and without taking that class I would have needed a lot more training when I started.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to go into the data field?
A: I actually started as a finance major, but I didn’t really enjoy the course work I was doing. I knew I was always really interested in computers and I’m good at math, so I decided to throw myself into a semester of computer engineering classes. I ended up really liking those courses and found computer engineering to be super interesting, so I have stayed on this path.
Q: What has been the most interesting thing you have learned since starting your internship at Northwestern Mutual?
A: Just how big and vast the array of different code bases that are built on top of each other are. To see first-hand software that is so complex and built up so much, yet still functional and easy to use is very impressive.
Q: What advice would you give to someone going into computer engineering?
A: It is so important to network with your professors while in college. Professors know a ton of people in the industry and can connect you with some great people. Staying caught up and on top of your schoolwork can give you more time to join clubs, network, and take part in other activities to help you explore more within the field.
Q: Would you recommend an internship with Northwestern Mutual to your friends?
A: Yes, I would! Interning with Northwestern Mutual has been a great experience for me. I have learned so much and I get to put a Fortune 100 company on my resume. I have learned that most interns are hired full-time at Northwestern Mutual post-graduation, which is a great testament to the company culture and career growth opportunities for their employees.
Q: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
A: Yes, I am a part of the board game club at UW-Milwaukee. We meet about once a week and play board games together – it's a great way to socialize and meet new people. My favorite game is called Root: A Game of Might and Right.
Q: What is your dream job?
A: My dream job would be a data engineer or data scientist for CERN, an advanced research facility in Switzerland. CERN is the site of a large hadron collider, but the science behind it comes from data engineering and programming. I think it would be really interesting to apply my data engineering knowledge to something of that magnitude.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: A relatively unknown fact about me is that I participate in Super Smash Bros. video game tournaments. I am a very competitive person, and this allows me to continue that passion beyond sports in high school.