Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Melissa Namiot ’88

Melissa Namiot '88

  • Systems analyst
  • Fidelity Investments, Smithfield, R.I.

“I fell into a career in technology, and I’m glad I did,” says Melissa Namiot. While working for an educational company in Cambridge, Mass., she was asked to cover for a co-worker in the computer department who was on vacation. “That was my first introduction to technology,” she says.

Namiot discovered that her analytical nature and her strength in learning languages—gleaned from her major in French and international relations—gave her an edge in technology.

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

Now, with more than 10 years in the field, she works as a systems analyst with Fidelity Investments. Namiot spends her days troubleshooting technical issues, changing or creating software to meet her organization’s business needs and challenges. “People come to me to solve their problems, and when I can deliver on that it’s very satisfying,” she says.

She’s proud of her success in the field despite her lack of a technology degree. “My career path is more like a labyrinth,” she says. (Her first job out of college was as a recruiter for a French company.) “Being exposed to so many different offerings at Wheaton allowed me to be comfortable with new challenges.”

Sara Nausch ’11

sophomore symposium smile

  • Associate
  • K2 Partnering Solutions, Boston

A sociology and history major at Wheaton, Sara Nausch works in the staffing end of the technology industry, assessing the hiring needs of chief information officers and IT managers and connecting them with talented professionals throughout the United States.

She typically engages with executives when they are implementing a new system or enhancing an existing one. “I have an interesting perspective on the technology industry, because I’m able to see trends on both sides of the table.” She knows what companies are looking for in new hires, and she also understands what job seekers expect from employers.

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

“To be successful, you need to listen to your client, develop a plan for implementation, and articulate to your team what needs to be done,” she says.

Although Nausch knows that women excel in this work, it is still a male-dominated industry, she says. “I don’t see many female IT managers and have yet to speak with a female CIO. You must be a trailblazer. Be prepared to be the only female on-site. Relish in that fact and make your voice heard.”

Christina Nelson ’11

Christina Nelson ’11

  • Systems engineer
  • Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Portsmouth, R.I.

Christina Nelson is responsible for the software integration and testing on a new class of Navy destroyer. Working for defense contractor Raytheon, she and her team take software from various development groups, put it all together and make sure it works as designed. After integrating all the software, finding problems and testing solutions, she and her team communicate with Navy officials and run tests to make sure the software meets the Navy’s standards.

When she came to Wheaton, she had no experience in computer science and didn’t see herself in a technology career, but that changed the summer after her freshman year. While working on the Lexomics project with Professor of Computer Science Mark LeBlanc, she became “hooked on programming.” (Lexomics is the analysis of the frequency, distribution and arrangement of words in large-scale patterns.)

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

“I liked seeing that you could use new methods to solve old problems,” she says. She went on to a major in computer science and mathematics. Professor LeBlanc recommended her for a summer internship at Raytheon, and a full-time position followed.

“My liberal arts education taught me how to problem solve, pulling from different experiences when trying to find a solution,” she says. “Having studied a wide variety of subjects at Wheaton, I feel comfortable taking on tasks that involve more than just a software background.” With less than one year on the job, she was asked to be the primary author on the testing her team performed.

Pamela “Pam” Perkins Au ’81

Pamela “Pam” Perkins Au ’81

  • Director, information technology quality and compliance strategy
  • Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.

Pam Au didn’t expect to work in technology, but an opportunity to be a pioneer in the early ’80s changed her mind. After interning for Congresswoman Margaret Heckler, the government major was offered a position in business applications programming at Merrill Lynch.

“Wall Street was making a huge investment in technology. There were few women in IT in the brokerage industry, and it was an opportunity to learn, grow and develop,” she says.

She went through a 12-week training program, learning COBOL and other programming languages. “It was really technical,” she says. “To this day, I am so proud of making it through that training.”

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

Now Au is responsible for the development and execution of Johnson & Johnson’s global IT quality and compliance strategy. She recently led a team to transform the way IT systems and services are delivered by streamlining the systems development life-cycle process and making it more user-friendly.

“As a liberal arts major, I learned to look at things holistically,” she says. “[Professor of Political Science] Darlene Boroviak taught me not to set boundaries.”

With more than 30 years in IT, Au enjoys serving as a mentor to young women and men interested in technology careers. “It’s what I love most about my job,” she says. “Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve accomplished by working with people in teams.”