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Ann Arbor Spark

February 9, 2021

Internship Launches Tech Career in Ann Arbor for Recent College Grad

Originally from Naperville, IL, Mike Riley first experienced Ann Arbor in the summer of 2018 as an intern at Barracuda Networks. At the time, Mike was entering his senior year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where he was studying computer software engineering as well as serving as captain of the varsity football team. “A family friend who was familiar with the company suggested I look at Barracuda internship opportunities, so I applied.”

For 10 weeks, Mike immersed himself in Ann Arbor’s downtown culture. “I didn’t have a car, so I chose to live downtown and walked everywhere. It has a big city vibe with plenty to do — night life, restaurants, movie theaters.”

Mike’s biggest takeaway from the internship was the insights gained with hands-on, practical experience. “It was nice to take the skills I had learned at school and see how they would apply in real-world scenarios. Then I could take that experience back for my senior year and focus on the studies that I knew would be the most beneficial as a result of my internship.”

In October of Mike’s senior year, Barracuda offered him a fulltime position. He was happy to accept the offer and return to Ann Arbor, a city he found very similar to Naperville. “From what I’ve heard, working in Silicon Valley is very expensive. I like being near a big city, like Detroit, but appreciate the accessibility and affordability that comes with smaller towns. Having already experienced Ann Arbor was part of the reason I wanted to accept the offer from Barracuda.”

Overall, Mike knows that he’s moved to a thriving tech community where he’ll be able to continue to grow his career. “I don’t feel like I’ve pigeonholed myself by choosing to start my career here. Ann Arbor’s tech scene is opportunity-rich and from what I’ve seen, continues to grow. A lot of new hires at Barracuda came from other companies in the area. Same with those who leave, they aren’t heading out to the coasts for new jobs, they’re staying here.”

When Mike returned to Ann Arbor, he moved into an apartment about five minutes from downtown. “I’m still close enough that it’s easy to get into work or pick-up dinner from one of the local restaurants. Really, there’s no shortage of things to do — even during the pandemic — and I still find downtown Ann Arbor a great place to take a walk.”

Interested in a new career based in the Ann Arbor region? Check out the SPARK Job Portal for the latest opportunities.