Alumni Stories – Thad Riggle – South Hills School of Business & Technology
Bright Outlook Occupation: Computer User Support Specialist
June 5, 2018
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June 14, 2018

Alumni Stories – Thad Riggle

South Hills alumnus Thad Riggle is pictured here with his dog, Bronson, who frequently accompanies him to work. Thad said, “It’s common policy for Amazon to allow dogs. He is sort of the mascot for our team and has many friends here!”

 
“Don't be afraid to take chances and learn things that may be outside of your comfort zone.”
 
Q: Describe your current role and your duties and responsibilities.

Thad Riggle: I’m currently a Cloud Support Engineer for Amazon Web Services (AWS) which involves supporting companies with their efforts in running their infrastructure on AWS. I specialize in our RDS (Relational Database Services), which provides databases such as Oracle®, Microsoft® SQL Server, and others with minimal management on the customer's side. I was recently certified as an AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate with plans for becoming certified at the Professional level. I also belong to PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server).

Q: How did South Hills prepare you for your career?

Thad: South Hills taught me all of the basics of working on many different technologies within the IT sphere, and also many other non-technical skills such as communication, management, and networking that are needed to succeed in any career. The SQL skills I learned in class helped me to qualify for a job that I applied for and was offered at my internship site.

Q: Where did you do your South Hills Internship and what role did you play?

Thad: My internship position (a required part of all specialized associate degree programs at South Hills) was as a software programmer with Sheetz, Inc. corporate office in Altoona, PA I was assigned a project to port a few legacy software programs from python™, a programming language, to Perl. I was also tasked with creating a software program that could calculate fuel flow rates at the pumps in every Sheetz store. This small project that I worked on as an intern is now used company-wide and is still being expanded upon today.

Near the end of my internship, I noticed that Sheetz had listed an opening for a Junior Database Administrator on their job board and I applied for the job. I was hired and started the position before graduation and continued to work there for 4.5 years. Eventually, I worked my way into administrating of most of their database platforms and was involved in most IT projects on the corporate side from conception to implementation and then support after implementation.

After Sheetz, I had a brief stint at BNY Mellon in Pittsburgh, and shortly after starting there was recruited for my position at Amazon Web Services.

Q: What advice do you have for current or prospective students?

Thad: Never stop learning and don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone! This is commonly said by many professionals and seems cliché to say; but, this advice is invaluable. Showing that you are willing to learn and take on new/added responsibility that a lot of people are afraid of, and can really set you apart from other candidates.

Q: If you could describe South Hills in three words, what would they be and why?

Thad: If I could describe South Hills in three words, I’d choose, “Fun, rewarding, and crazy.” My time at South Hills was extremely fun and was very rewarding as it lead to all of the opportunities that I have had today. “Crazy” is for the friends I made while I was there, which I would not trade for anything in the world.

Q: What was the most valuable lesson — inside or outside the classroom — you learned at South Hills?

Thad: The most valuable lesson I learned is to be constantly be learning about whatever field that you are in. Especially with technology, since the field is so fast-paced. Also, don't be afraid to take chances and learn things that may be outside of your comfort zone. I originally wanted to be a programmer, but would not change my career path looking back on things. If I did not branch outside of programming, I would definitely not be where I am today.

Q: Do you have any favorite South Hills classes?

Thad: My favorite South Hills class was definitely “Ethical Hacking.” It was so fun to see and learn about how companies are breached by things that aren't really technology-based such as social engineering, especially with how common breaches seem to be today. This class was also very challenging for me as everything I learned it in was so outside of my wheelhouse of knowledge, but it was all very fascinating.

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