Meet Siri Bandaru - Part of ITS Student Profile Series

September 15, 2020

siri imageWritten by Jim Phillips, ITS Campus Engagement

One of the great advantages of working in higher education is the opportunity to work with brilliant students. In the case of UC Santa Cruz, we truly get to work with some of the best and brightest, and ITS takes great pride in the students we hire. And why not: they are highly motivated, productive and, in many instances, on their way to accomplish great things in the world. We just happen to get to call them colleagues for a short while during their college years.

Siri Bandaru was one such hire. She was intrigued by technical gadgetry as a youth and enjoyed tinkering and exploring all the features that were constantly being rolled out with new technology. Having both a father and an uncle who worked in IT, she was inspired by their passion for their work. Her teenage years were a time of great innovation and change for IT as an industry, and Siri was captivated: “I saw how IT was transforming our world and wanted to contribute to that."

UCSC Degree

The allure of the transformative potential of technology led Siri to receive a degree in Computer Science (CS) with a minor in Technology and Information Management in the Baskin School of Engineering (graduated in March 2020). She knew that she needed the foundation of a CS degree but, at heart, she was a people person who wanted to apply the technical skill set to real world business problems.

When the opportunity to work in ITS as a student worker became available, she was so excited to be able to explore her interests and build her technical skills by working on projects and initiatives that would have an impact for our campus. Siri recounts, “I was able to gain real experience in the industry before I even graduated.” This is a big draw for many student workers. Due to the nature of the work, you can’t help but get thrown into some massive projects that often make a significant difference in the lives of students, faculty and staff.

First Day on the Job

On her first day on the job in ITS, Siri had a chance meeting with ITS Vice Chancellor, Van Williams: “Van’s vision for ITS got me really excited about my new role. His words about the power of marketing within IT have stuck with me to this day.” And, this chance meeting proved valuable since she now has a position with a technical team working within a marketing agency.

Siri worked for ITS for two years. Lisa Bono and Tamara Santos shared responsibilities for her supervision. When Siri expressed an interest in business analysis and project management, Lisa and Tamara looked for opportunities to give Siri a chance to explore those fields. For example, Siri job shadowed a Business Analyst and contributed to a campus-wide project. Tamara coached Siri in project management skills as she planned and executed our 2019 National Cybersecurity Awareness Month campaign. Lisa cultivated Siri’s creative and technical skills through projects that required the use of Photoshop and html.

Introduced Twitter in ITS

Siri was actually the person who introduced Twitter as a marketing tool for ITS. Up until then, ITS did not have a presence in the twitter-sphere. In her time here, Siri successfully used twitter to promote security best practices to keep UCSC's students, staff and digital assets safe. And, that practice continues even now that she has graduated and left UC Santa Cruz. Her html skills came in particularly handy to maintain the News section of the ITS website. She also used her Photoshop skills to design the 2018-19 ITS calendar, with each month highlighting a security and privacy concept.

siri imageLike many students, when Siri was plowing through her undergraduate courses and majoring in Computer Science, she was not quite sure how it would all come together to actually locate a job that allowed her to exercise her technical skills and also involved working with people:

"Working at ITS showed me how that would be possible. I was given the flexibility to explore my different interests while contributing to the university. My experiences at ITS and working with amazing mentors helped me transition to my current job right after graduation. ITS gave me the credibility to secure my current job although I was a recent graduate. I hope that other UC Santa Cruz students will leverage the opportunity to work for ITS as well."

New Job after UCSC

Today, Siri works as a technical project manager with Rain the Growth Agency. She has put her experience to use, working with developers, designers and marketing specialists in support of digital campaigns for clients. Siri remains quite proud of her achievements here: “When you see the benefit that your work is having on an organization, it is truly motivational.”