2022 Grad Profile: Nic Rockwood

April 27, 2022

Nic Rockwood


Where are you from?

Mount Dora, Florida


Computer Science

Tell us about your path to GS!

Before coming to Columbia, I attended William & Mary, where I majored in theater and English. After my sophomore year, I moved to New York City and founded a theater company while supporting myself as a bartender. Over the next 15 years, my company produced award-winning works at the New York Theater Festival, The Constellation Theatre Company (Washington D.C.), and The Tennessee Williams Festival (New Orleans). After struggling to figure out what was next, I decided to go back to school. When I initially enrolled at Columbia, my intention was to finish my theater degree and then get an MFA, but after taking a computer science course as part of the Core Curriculum, I decided to pivot and become a software engineer.

What has been your proudest Columbia moment?

After my first recruitment cycle, I received literally ZERO replies from over 50 applications. Instead of wondering if I'd just made the biggest mistake of my life, I decided to tap into the resources available to me as a GS student. I networked with other CS students and was directed to a student-led initiative that sets up mock interviews between current students and alumni. It was only through the support of my professors and peers that during my next recruitment cycle I found myself in the position of having to choose between three offers. It was a moment that made me feel immense pride in all that work I had put in, but it made me even prouder to be a part of a community like Columbia.

Who are some people who have contributed the most to your Columbia experience?

During my intro computer science course with Professor Paul Blaer, I would often go to his office hours to cry and complain about how I wasn't sure that I could actually make the transition from being a theater producer to a software engineer. It was only through his constant encouragement that I was able to see that my non-traditional, creative background provided me with a unique vantage point in the tech world and was actually an asset. Professor Blaer helped me realize that I belonged in that class and that I had something to offer beyond what I could see for myself at that point in time.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I am currently working as a software engineer at Goldman Sachs and will begin full-time after graduation!

What advice would you give to a Columbia student starting their GS journey?

Remember that "a life beyond your wildest dreams" doesn't necessarily mean the life that you've imagined for yourself. Columbia will provide opportunities for you that you never could have dreamed up on your own, so keep yourself open to the unknown. Sometimes you just have to jump and build your wings on the way down.