Local grad lands job with Microsoft

OBSERVER Photo by Damian Sebouhian Taylor Roesler graduated from SUNY Fredonia in December and will be headed to Dallas, Texas for a lucrative entry-level position with Microsoft.

There are a lot of stories out there of university graduates who leave the academic world behind only to discover that what they spent the past four-plus years studying doesn’t apply to them in the “real world.” Their major isn’t very marketable and here they are strapped with loads of crushing debt.

Tyler Roesler isn’t one of those people.

His story is refreshingly different and represents the promise of what smaller, less-expensive state schools can offer for those who apply themselves.

Roesler was still in school when he secured a job at one of the world’s leading computer software giants, Microsoft. The Cassadaga native graduated in December from State University of New York at Fredonia and will be headed to Dallas, Texas in February to begin what looks to be a promising and lucrative career.

In fact, according to chair of the Computer Information Sciences Dr. Ziya Arnavut, the support-engineer job Roesler is landing represents the highest paid position of anyone from the department in SUNY Fredonia’s history.

“He’ll be making more than a Ph.D. that we hire here in Fredonia,” said Arnavut.

“I had never even thought about moving to Texas until Microsoft called,” said Roesler. “How do you say no?”

Although the 22-year-old has always had a fondness for computers — his father ran a computer repair shop for a number of years — Roesler came to Fredonia with no programming ambitions whatsoever.

Fredonia wasn’t even his first choice of schools.

After graduating from Cassadaga Valley Central School, Roesler was accepted into the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

“Finances were a big issue,” said Roesler. “Education there costs about a quarter of a million dollars after four years. So I went to (Jamestown Community College) for my first year, then transferred over to Fredonia where I (started) as a performance and education major.”

While Roesler loves music, he was having issues with the demands of the challenging curriculum.

“It became more of a chore and it became something that I didn’t enjoy anymore,” said Roesler. He came to the realization that “You don’t need a degree to play music.”

While questioning his whole purpose as a student, Roesler decided to take a computer science overview class. When it was over, the professor approached Roesler, telling him that he was a great student, and possessed a knack and a drive she normally doesn’t see.

“Have you ever considered switching majors?” she asked him.

So far, it’s among the best decisions Roesler has made, although he was quick to point out that the two fields are not as far apart as one might think.

“There’s those people that are like art geniuses, they can hear a pitch and automatically think it and everything materializes in their brain,” Roesler explained. “Then there’s the analytical person who’s more along for the theory of things. There’s a lot of math involved with music. Some people pay more attention to the math, some people pay more attention to the art.

“A lot of times it’s a combination of both,” he said.

Although most people think of the Rochester Institute of Technology when they think of the best schools to attend for computer science majors, Roesler and Arnavut sung the praises of Fredonia

“The department is making good moves with good students that we are recruiting,” Arnavut said. “We’re improving our programs, making them more in line with what industry is looking for. We’ve had students in the past who were hired by General Dynamics. In fact, General Dynamics started to come to our campus for recruitment, which they didn’t do in the past. We have about 180 computer science majors at Fredonia. We are growing. We want to grow healthily, so we are searching for more colleagues.”

Arnavut is working on creating a computer science graduate program at Fredonia, something he hopes to have at Fredonia in roughly five years.

Roesler said of the computer program at Fredonia, “I’m happy with it. It’s definitely a lot less money than going to RIT or one of those big schools. There’s potential here. It’s not necessarily about the degree that you’re getting or where you go, it’s about your passion and your drive.”

Roesler said that the reasons for his success and what made his resume particularly attractive to Microsoft wasn’t some super natural inherited acumen. It was about hard work and putting himself out there.

“A lot of it is showing (your professors) more than what is basically required. For a lot of my classes and course projects, I’d pick something more difficult that involves more research than what is required.”

Roesler extended himself by getting involved in the computer science club, becoming president and conducting independent studies.

All that extra hard work has paid off and now a local boy who has lived his entire life in this small, down-home community is off to the big city.

“When I went to Dallas for the interview, I was there for three days. I almost got run off the road with my rental car. It’s a whole different world. There are so many people. That’s going to take some getting used to.”

Luckily for Roesler, he won’t be moving alone.

“I have a fiancee,” Roesler said, beaming. “She’s a graphic designer. Microsoft will be moving both of us down to Dallas, basically all expenses paid.”