Grant Hulegaard: Software engineer

"I think the biggest thing about school at Davis is that you learn how to learn. Almost every class I took had some sort of impact on preparing me for post-college life."

Portrait photo

Name: Grant Hulegaard

Company: NGINX

Major: Economics

Graduation: 2013

Grant Hulegaard is an economics graduate who fell in love with programming while doing technical analyses for an economics course. After starting out as a business analyst, he turned this hobby into a career in web application. He is a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, dog lover, and nerd.

What do you do as a software engineer?

“I write a web application that monitors infrastructure performance, so servers. I work for a company called NGINX and we support and sell high-performance web servers. We sell licenses for our software or we just sell support services, because we’re an open source company, so actually the source code for our product is publicly available. You can install it onto your own server without ever contacting us, but if you, for some reason would like support or tutoring, we sell that support.

How did your education at Davis prepare you for your job?

“I think the biggest thing about school at Davis is that you learn how to learn. Almost every class I took had some sort of impact on preparing me for post-college life. You don’t necessarily walk out of college with every piece of information you’re ever going to know for the rest of your life. The more important thing is that you know how to obtain new information and how to apply it. I started picking up some technical skills and I applied that technical knowledge and kept learning more and more, and now I’m full-time software engineering rather than a business analyst.

"My time at Davis was really rich with people and experiences, as maybe noted, I’m now in a completely different field than my degree. Academically, I’m not sure I would be considered the stellar example of a student, but coming out of college, the moral of the story was don’t be afraid to try again and there’s other things in life that can help prepare you in ways you never expected.”

Do you have any advice for current students?

“Don’t give up. I think it’s really easy to get discouraged when things don’t go exactly your way. I think one of the clearest experiences in my life was Math 67, which was a linear algebra class. I think I took that class like three times and I got what was considered a “passing” grade eventually. That’s the most important thing that’s helped me through post-college: if at first something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to try again.”

— Noah Pflueger-Peters (B.A., English, ’17), writing intern in the College of Letters and Science