Test Automation Engineer Transitions into the World of App Development at UCSC Extension


- Sunaina Yelwal Prabhakar, Internet Programming and Development Alumna

Term : March, 2015
Department : Engineering
Program : Internet Programming & Dev

As an intern at a local startup, Sunaina Yelwal Prabhakar is designing a JavaScript software development kit for a mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) platform. In other words: she’s gaining the quintessential Silicon Valley experience for programmers and developers. She discovered this opportunity as a student in UCSC Extension’s Internet Programming and Development certificate program.

What brought you to UCSC Extension?
I came to California on an H4 visa after having worked in India as a test automation engineer for four years. Those four years I was doing automated testing of Web applications, I always wanted to learn how these applications were developed. When I came here, I knew I had a chance to learn something new.

I had prepared to pursue a master’s, but when I learned about UCSC Silicon Valley Extension, I was sure that this was where I wanted to go, because the courses were industry-driven and I could do an internship while studying. I chose the JavaScript track because I knew there are a lot of exciting Web technologies out there based on it. This program was perfect for me.

What were your courses like?

All of the courses I took had really good instructors. They all know how this industry works, and know what you need to build your career. I appreciated that the program is not all about theoretical training; it’s more practical, on-the-job type training. The instructors really helped in guiding me towards what I need to learn and what technologies I should excel in to find a job here. “JavaScript and AJAX, Comprehensive” introduced me to other technologies, like angular.js and node.js.      

“Developing Java and Java EE Applications with Spring Framework and Hibernate” surprised me because it’s like two courses in one. It’s intense, but I like it that way because I’m getting to learn a lot of things. My classmates and I are trying to build an online movie ticketing system as a project, and it’s a good learning experience.

How have you been able to apply your new skills?

I’m interning at moBack, where I’m building a JavaScript SDK. It’s a big project. In addition to JavaScript, I’m using my HTML, CSS and Java skills. I’m also getting to learn other skills, like angular.js and Jasmine unit testing for JavaScript. I’m learning a lot about mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) and being exposed to all kinds of Web technologies.

The Internship Coordinator at UCSC Extension told me about this company, and the people I intern with know how much workload to give an intern; they are mentoring me so well. They know how much I can work, and slowly they are giving me more complex things to do, which is great.

What advice do you have for students interested in Internet programming and development?

If you start with the basics and then go more advanced, you can build a career in computer science. The courses are structured that way; if you take the prerequisites for every course, even without an extensive computer science background, you can learn a lot.

What’s your dream job?

My dream role would be doing application development with a passionate and enthusiastic team in a small organization where my work and contribution would be recognized.

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