News & Stories
MJ Shaffer
March 20, 2024

Computer Science Major Decodes Future with Strong Community and Real-World Application

MJ Shaffer, a double major in computer science and creative technologies, always loved Legos and toyed around with web development in high school. But only in college did MJ realize the power of computer science to solve real-world problems. Today MJ attributes job readiness to academics, career-building experiences and support at Berry.

MJ loves project-based coursework. Homework often takes the form of code, and finals are larger projects requiring synthesis of different skill sets, such as building a videogame or designing a website.

One course required using technology to solve a real-world problem. MJ's group identified a campus building known for having a door that was difficult to open. They implemented air pressure sensors, took readings and discovered a significant difference between the building's indoor and exterior air pressure. Lauding their research and ingenuity, the college modified the building.


“The idea that I could make a difference with technology is empowering,” MJ says. “Whatever I do next, I want to use my tech experience to make a difference in people’s lives.”

MJ also received practical insight during an internship with Improving, an on-demand software development and consulting company. They were assigned to an internal projects team that consulted with companies to develop websites and other digital solutions.

MJ notes, “Our classes covered the breadth of computer science, so I had a lot of surface-level practice and knowledge. But then my internship helped me dive deeper into specific areas of software development where I wanted to learn more.”

As a teaching assistant in creative technologies and computer science courses, MJ built relationships with others: “I love helping students get past difficult lines of code or getting to know someone while trying to solve a problem together. There’s a stereotype that computer science majors are anti-social, but this job and the social interactions it required helped me hone my communication skills.”

MJ also worked as a lab assistant in Berry’s makerspace, Hackberry Lab. Available to anyone using the lab on weeknights, they felt a responsibility to make every student feel welcome whatever their level of technical proficiency.


“Often, someone will come in unsure of how to get started with an idea, and it’s my job to help them through it,” MJ says. “I love helping people figure out the steps. It’s a place where people are excited to see each other succeed.”

MJ encourages aspiring computer science students to jump in: “I had a lot of anxiety about asking for help starting out in computer science courses. But at Berry, everyone around you is ready to help, so don’t be afraid to ask! Be bold about learning and trying new things.”

 Back to Top

Footer Menu