Jenna Burke

Major: B.S. in Informatics, business cognate,  2014

Career: Software Developer for General Motors

Advice: Lean on advisors to help you find your way.

Jenna Burke had no idea what to do.

Sure, she was in college—made the trip up from New Albany, Ind., to Bloomington, just like her sister and brother before her—but she wasn’t sure where she wanted to focus her attention. Her brother had been in the informatics program at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, encouraged her to check it out, to take a few classes, and see how it fit.

“I found it so interesting and challenging,” Burke says. “I really liked that I was picking up actual skills that I knew would benefit me in the future. I stuck with it.”

Burke wasn’t really a technical person, but she was willing to learn, attacking informatics the same way she pursued her love of the Spanish language—by immersing herself as much as possible in her study of the subject. She hoped to blend those two areas when it came to a career, but she wasn’t optimistic.

“I came out of high school knowing that I wanted to work in a global environment,” Burke says. “I love speaking Spanish, and I really wanted to do something with that. Switching over to technology, I didn’t think I would be able to use my Spanish, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.”

She started to find some clarity during her sophomore year at IU. She visited the Career Services office, and the advisors provided the guidance Burke needed at that point in her life.

“We’re so unaware of what we really want,” Burke says. “Coming out of high school, I didn’t know what major I wanted to choose. When I picked my major, I didn’t know what job I wanted to go into. Everyone in Career Services has the experience to identify that in the students. They helped me articulate what I wanted in my job. They helped me realize the value of my skills, and in that, they helped me find the best fit.”

That included helping Burke find the right job opportunity, one she never would have considered on her own. She knew she wanted to travel for work, and she was interested in working with people from other countries.

She didn’t realize all the puzzle pieces would come together to point her in an unexpected direction.

“It hadn’t occurred to me to work in the automotive industry,” Burke says. “(Career Services) encouraged me to consider General Motors as an option. They had a relationship with the recruiter, who is now my boss. They really helped as a matchmaker.”

After graduating in 2014 with a B.S. in Informatics, Burke landed a job as a software developer at General Motors with the help of Career Services. She helps support the software that tracks the time other GM employees need to build cars, providing an opportunity to pay the workers better and more efficiently.

She also gets to travel. Burke has found herself on the other side of the equation as a recruiter for GM during Career Fairs, including a trip to Bloomington in mid-September that Burke described as “surreal,” and she has traveled to plants around the country to train others on how to use the software she supports.

Burke also will get the opportunity to use her Spanish-language skills on an upcoming trip to Brazil. She’s excited about the trip, all of which is possible, in part, thanks to the work of Career Services.

“I think what is most important for a student embarking on their job search is to know what things you enjoy,” Burke says. “You can talk to Career Services, you can talk to any advisors, and you can say you want A, B and C. They’re familiar enough with most of the employers and the job opportunities available that they will know what jobs fit you. They are great at that. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”