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04-28-2017

Clarkson University Student Gives TEDx Talk on How to Start a Career Early

Gus Naughton of Tobyhanna, Pa., came to Clarkson University last fall as a first-year computer science student, and now, less than a year later, he has gained research experience, a co-op with Saab Sensis Corporation, and a full-time job offer as a software engineer at GE Digital.

Gus NaughtonHow did he do it? Naughton shared his advice for starting a career early at TEDx Syracuse University's Switch event last week. The talk will be available online later this spring at http://tedx.syr.edu/ .

While there are a lot of roadblocks for anyone under 21 looking to launch their career, Naughton said, the connections he made at a young age allowed him to start building a foundation of professional experience.

"You have to create your own luck," he said. "The harder you work, the luckier you become."

A big part of this strategy is having confidence, Naughton said. The ability to seek new ventures and sell those experiences to potential employers can open up new opportunities.

Naughton began his career in computer science as a 14-year-old volunteer for an electronics company in Vancouver, British Columbia. This turned into a web hosting job, during which he tracked the results of how each project had had an impact on his clients' sales.
 
By the time he graduated high school, he had four years of professional experience and had placed third in New York University Tandon School of Engineering's Cyber Security Awareness Week High School Forensics Competition.

Naughton learned about Clarkson through his grandfather, mechanical engineering alumnus Thomas Naughton '55, and he determined it was the right school to help him get to the next step in his career.

In his first semester, Naughton jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Career Center's mock interview day, where spoke to GE about the digital technology leadership program. The mock interview turned into a real internship offer in November, and later a full-time job offer in January with GE Digital.

"I wouldn't have gotten the job if it weren't for the Career Center," he said.

Naughton is on a co-op this semester for Saab Sensis Corporation, combining his love for technology with his love for airplanes. As a student pilot for five years, he appreciates the opportunity to work on the air traffic control product to improve safety and reduce the cost required to roll out the system.

"When you're the pilot, you're talking to air traffic controllers, whose job it is to keep you safe," he said. "But as a pilot, you don't have much insight into how their operations work. As a pilot looking at air traffic control projects, I'm getting a lot of insight that I otherwise wouldn't see. I'm able to get a lot more knowledge as a pilot about how I can more efficiently fly and interact with these controllers."

As Naughton prepares for his new role with GE Digital next month, he plans to continue his research in the fall in Clarkson's Terascale All-sensing Research Studio (TARS), run by Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering Sanjib Banerjee and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Natasha Banerjee.

The studio involves research in the areas of multi-camera systems in computer vision, computer graphics, human-computer interaction, software engineering, linguistics, biometrics and big data analytics.

Naughton said one of the lab's projects focused on taking photographs of objects and people, then quickly converting them to a 3-D format for the purposes of animation, graphic design or even printing 3-D models. Each student had their pictures taken, which were turned into 3-D action figures.

Learn more about TARS at http://tars.clarkson.edu/ .

Naughton said the experiences he's gained at Clarkson have helped shape a future of opportunities, and other students looking to build their resumes have the power to do the same.

"If you don't have experience, try to seek out chances to get that experience in unconventional ways," he said. "If you don't have an internship, it doesn't mean you're unqualified. Talk to faculty about research opportunities and work with friends on projects. There are a lot of ways to get experience without going the job route."

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

[Photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/gnaughton.jpg ]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations, at 315-268-4483 or kchezum@clarkson.edu.]

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