Ryan Patena

Solving Problems Through IT

Program:B.S. Informatics

Minor:Business and Telecommunications

Best Advice:"Take advantage of all the opportunities that the School of Informatics and Computing provides beyond just the classroom."

When Ryan Patena arrived on the Indiana University campus in 2007, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He had an interest in technology and computers, but he didn’t want to spend all his time learning coding. He also liked the idea of working in television or radio.

A few minutes spent looking into the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering gave Patena all the information he needed to build an educational plan that gave him the tools to be successful immediately after graduating in 2011.

“I decided to pursue an informatics degree with a dual cognate in business and telecommunications,” says Patena, who is a business relationship manager for Abbot Laboratories in Southern California. “It definitely was a very good decision. I can tell you that the skills I learned have come in handy on a daily basis. At the time informatics was summed up to me as ‘solving problems using IT.’ I can definitely say that is my primary objective in my current position and really all the IT positions I’ve had so far.”

The broad focus of the Informatics program gave Patena the fundamental tools he needed to communicate with developers, networking specialists, and database experts. His cognate in business from the Kelley School of Business, meanwhile, allows him to speak the language of the financial analysts who present business problems that need to be solved.

“With Informatics, you get a broad education in the IT space,” Patena says. “Of course, you have your typical programming classes, and I took a number of those, but there were also classes I remember that revolved around design and databases and networking. Having that basic understanding of all the pieces of IT while understanding the underlying business problem you’re trying to solve is very helpful.”

The capstone project that saw Patena create an application using the software development lifecycle gave him confidence in managing an IT project. He says he uses the skills built in the capstone project on a daily basis in his current position.

Patena took advantage of the career fairs and guest speakers who broadened his horizons, and he suggests every student make the most of their time at IU. For instance, a meeting at a career fair led to an internship with Abbott, an experience that led to a full-time position directly out of school.

“You can explore the different areas,” Patena says. “If you’re looking for more of a coding-developer type of career or a creative-design career, you have an ability to explore different areas and help you decide what you’re really interested in.”