“I knew I didn’t want to sit in a dark room and code programs all day,” says Kara Snyder Smith '05, who graduated from William and Mary with a B.S. in Computer Science and a business minor in Operations and Information Technology. “I wanted to have a bigger base, to understand the business side along with the technical side. I thought it would open more doors in my career.”
And she was right.
Kara is one of a growing number of women who are enjoying a dynamic and engaging career in computer science. Not surprisingly, she is quick to encourage more women to join the field.
“There are a lot of different things you can do with this degree that never would have crossed my mind when I graduated,” says Kara.
After graduation, Kara accepted a position with Booz Allen Hamilton, a government consulting firm in northern Virginia, where she interned the summer before her senior year of college. Her first projects were in identity management and java development, and her role continues to evolve.
“The projects I work on are constantly changing,” says Kara who recently became a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). “It’s the variety of projects that challenges me in new ways.”
Working with both civil and Department of Defense agencies, Kara’s primary role is designing access control systems to keep information systems secure. She is working on the leading edge of technology to enable government agencies to implement identity federation between government agencies and with other organizations, including many universities. "Federation" is a process of setting up trust relationships between the separate agencies’ information systems.
“For example, if you used your William and Mary username to log into an online bookstore to purchase text books, a trust would need to be established between the College and the online retailor system to enable this relationship,” says Kara.
Kara’s job has a strong technical component, and she continues to develop and learn new skills. She is also working with clients on a regular basis.
“I split my time in an interesting way, part working with clients and part development.” says Kara. “It is a very team-oriented way of developing, which I really enjoy.”“William and Mary certainly prepared me for success in the field,” continues Kara. “I graduated with the basic knowledge and background I needed to learn new programs and technical skills easily. And learning to work through programming challenges in college has really helped me to be a good problem-solver.”