Taking an IT career in a new direction

David Kwasny
Degree: BS in Information Science and Technology
Hometown: Cedarburg, Wis.
It’s a fact: Kwasny helped develop a prototype for a new state government website.

David Kwasny has managed to weave his workplace and academic experience into success.

“I think I have more to contribute in class and in projects because of the work experience. I really get to see the practical side of everything I’m learning. When we talk about theory, I often have the experience of actually doing it.”

Kwasny, a Dean’s List student in the School of Information Studies (SOIS), combines academics and fieldwork. In addition to a full class schedule, he works 20 hours a week as the website administrator and general information technology expert at the Hausmann-McNally law firm.

He had been working full time at the firm when he decided he wanted to earn a degree so that he could move his career in a different direction. He found support in that effort at SOIS, where he’s learning more about the business and entrepreneurial side of information technology (IT).

Although he likes his law firm job, says Kwasny, there aren’t a lot of career paths there for non-lawyers. “I’ve gone about as far as I can at a firm that doesn’t focus on IT. I want to go to a company where I can use my experience and my degree.”

Khaled Sabha, a lecturer in SOIS, encouraged him to explore career options while learning. “[Sabha] really brings energy to the class,” Kwasny says. “He’s not only concerned about your current education, but about your future career. He’s focused on making education relevant to us as job seekers.”

Another faculty member, Assistant Professor Michael Zimmer, helped him design a required internship so it fit with the work he was doing in his current job. “It fit within the description of the internship, so I was able to get credit for my work.”

His interest in computers developed when he was young. In 1995, he saw the movie “Hackers” and found himself enthralled by the stylish visuals, the fun of technology and the view of the cyber world.

After earning an associate’s degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College, he moved to UWM, where he was easily able to transfer his credits while continuing to work.

Kwasny also loves art, a good fit with his computer interests. “I’ve found my artistic and technical sides can come together in Web design.”

One of his passions is to make websites easier to use. For his senior capstone project, he and a team of fellow students — Nicholas Clark, Christopher Toepfer and  Chue Neng Chang — decided to design a new prototype for the Wisconsin state government site, www.wi.gov.

“I’d read that it was ranked near the bottom in government sites,” he says of the inspiration for the project. “We’re trying to make it more visually appealing and user-friendly.”

The next step in the project will be letting the state know about it, and seeing how the bureaucracy reacts to an unsolicited redesign of its website. With his work and academic schedules and search for a job in his field, he hasn’t had time to contact state officials yet about the prototype.

“Right now, I’m focused on graduating, but if the state is interested in our redesign of the site, I’m sure we can work something out.”