Shawn’s Home Run: Blending Computer Science and His Love for the Sox

clockwise: NU Commencement 2008, me holding the 2013 World Series Trophy, me in the Duckboat on parade day

clock­wise: NU Com­mence­ment 2008, me holding the 2013 World Series Trophy, me in the Duck­boat on parade day

This guest post was written by 2008 alum (I know, 6 years later not 5, but his advice is too good!), Shawn O’Rourke, for the 5 Alums, 5 Years Later series. Shawn grad­u­ated with a BS in com­puter sci­ence and is now the Coor­di­nator of Base­ball Sys­tems Devel­op­ment for the Boston Red Sox. 

November 2nd, 2013:  Thou­sands gather in cel­e­bra­tion around the city of Boston. On Boyl­ston Street specif­i­cally, where just six and a half months ear­lier, one of the most tragic events of the city’s his­tory took place. The Cham­pi­onship Trophy stood proudly on the Boston Marathon Finish line, draped with the num­bers “617” and words “Boston Strong” around it.  I will always remember exactly where I was at that moment: riding in a Duck­boat, hand over my heart, singing “God Bless America” in unison with the thou­sands in atten­dance.  Remem­bering the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies and the coura­geous efforts by the first respon­ders, I couldn’t help but get emo­tional.  It was one of those moments when you realize how truly for­tu­nate you are. A moment that makes you rec­og­nize that you are part of some­thing bigger than your­self. Part of the healing process. One of Boston’s Strong.  My name is Shawn O’Rourke.  I’m a 2008 grad­uate of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and Coor­di­nator of Base­ball Sys­tems Devel­op­ment for the 2013 World Cham­pion Boston Red Sox.

You may be won­dering how a NU Alum with a Com­puter Sci­ence degree finds him­self riding in a World Series parade with the likes of David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The answer is simple — net­working, patience, pas­sion and hard work. As an under­grad in 2007 I was for­tu­nate enough to be in a class where the then Red Sox Director of IT (also a North­eastern Alum) hap­pened to be a guest speaker. After class, I intro­duced myself, handed him my resume, and a few weeks later had myself a co-​​op in the IT depart­ment. Throughout my six months run­ning around Fenway Park fixing com­puters, printers, phones, and a/​v equip­ment I was able to meet people from all dif­ferent com­pany depart­ments.  These con­nec­tions would ulti­mately help me land my dream job after grad­u­a­tion. But it did not happen right away.

I remember dri­ving back home to my par­ents house the day after my grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony in May 2008.  Col­lege was offi­cially over.  No more classes, no more home­work, no more finals.  It felt great, how­ever, I also didn’t have a job and didn’t have any money (aside from grad­u­a­tion gifts).  It was a very scary feeling.  So what do you do as a broke grad­uate with no job?  You join your friends on a month-​​long back­packing trip around Western Europe, obvi­ously!  Turned out to be the first great deci­sion of my post-​​college life.  Remember — you have six months before you have to begin to start paying off those col­lege loans and the rest of your life to work on building your career.  So first piece of advice is, if you have the time and the money to travel — DO IT NOW! Just remember Liam Neeson won’t be there to save you (sorry bad Taken reference).

Two days after returning from my trip, I received a phone call from a con­nec­tion with the Red Sox with an offer to work as a con­sul­tant doing soft­ware devel­op­ment.  It wasn’t a full-​​time posi­tion, and it wasn’t exactly my dream job, but I took a leap of faith knowing that, over time, I could net­work my way to where I wanted to be.  Remember — just because you don’t get your dream job right away does not mean you won’t ever get there.  Patience is truly a virtue.  At the com­pany Christmas party in 2008 I had a con­ver­sa­tion with the Director of Base­ball Infor­ma­tion Ser­vices in Base­ball Oper­a­tions — the depart­ment that I des­per­ately wanted to work in.  Two months later, I was hired full-​​time by base­ball oper­a­tions to work exclu­sively on base­ball sys­tems — my dream job! I’ve been there ever since.  My patience, net­working, and hard-​​work had paid off!

Now, maybe you don’t quite know what your dream job is right now — totally fine.  My advice for those who are unsure is to start by finding a place to work that does some­thing you are pas­sionate about — even if your degree or major doesn’t directly apply to it.  My degree was in Com­puter Sci­ence — but my life­long pas­sion was base­ball.  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that have degrees in sub­jects that have almost no rel­e­vance to what their jobs are today.  The truth, at least in my expe­ri­ence, is if a com­pany can tell that you are a hard-​​worker who is pas­sionate about what the com­pany does, they can and will teach you the nec­es­sary skills as long as you’re willing to learn.

So con­grat­u­la­tions, my fellow huskies, on com­pleting this chapter of your lives.  As you pre­pare to start your next one, just remember that above all else, it is yours to write.

Shawn O’Rourke is the Coor­di­nator of Base­ball Sys­tems Devel­op­ment for the Boston Red Sox and proud NU Alum.  Feel free to con­tact him at sorourke@​redsox.​com or tweet him at @Shawn_ORourke