Where are they now? Ashley Watkins (M.S., 2015)

What happens to our Kinesiology graduates once they’ve walked away from Cooke Hall for the very last time? Many of us think about the students we got to know well, and hope they’re enjoying satisfying lives and careers made possible by their years of study and hard work with us. And current students often wonder what the future holds after they complete their degree. Here are words of advice and wisdom shared by some of our graduates.

Our May 2016 feature is Ashley Watkins.Ashley Watkins

Ashley started in the Kinesiology M.S. program in Fall 2013 in the Exercise Physiology emphasis, advised by Dr. Don Dengel. After she graduated in spring 2015, Ashley moved to Seattle to continue her studies in software development. She got an internship with Indeed.com, the international employment search company, in software development and was recently hired there as a software engineer.

Could you describe your career in more detail? How long have you held your current position and what do you like best about it?
I just started as a Software Engineer at Indeed.com after interning there for four months. I love it. It really matches with my skills and personality in a way that nothing else has.

How do you think your experience at the U of M helped you in your career and personal goals?
It’s important to be able to balance multiple projects/responsibilities at once, and the U of M taught me a lot about that. It is important to be honest about what you can do, and work hard to produce high-quality work. It also taught me a lot about myself, and how to balance my priorities. Taking care of myself has to come first, and everything else falls into place after that.

What sparked your decision to go to graduate school?
I love to learn, I’m passionate about health, and I wasn’t sure what to do after I finished my undergraduate education. One of my mentors approached me about what my plans were, and told me that I would be a great fit for the graduate program. I’m very grateful to him for that, and for his ongoing support as I made my way through grad school.

What were some of your greatest challenges as a graduate student? Best experiences?
My greatest challenge: Balancing all of the different things I wanted to do. There are so many opportunities on campus!

My best experiences: People. My mentors are really what got me through, and got me to where I am today. Additionally, I had a lot of great moments with other graduate students. It was funny to hear how similar our worries were in the beginning, comforting to have the support of others who were having similar experiences, and when something went wrong, it was incredible to have those people who had you covered.

What advice would you give incoming graduate students?
There are a lot of incredible people at the University of Minnesota, and they’re happy to be a mentor to you. Seek them out. Their knowledge, advice, and support are invaluable.

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