My name is Jennifer Hardesty. In 1992, I was the first University of Alabama College of Engineering student to graduate with more than one minor. I have a B.S. in Computer Science with minors in Mathematics and English. Since then, I have made certain every cent of my out-of-state tuition hasn't been wasted.
For the first few years after graduating, I struggled to find my place. My high school guidance counselor and all those books assured me there were going to be plenty of jobs open to nerds and geeks when I graduated. It was all a lie. When I got my diploma and eagerly began the hunt for my dream job – or really any job, even tech support at Taco Bell. Seriously, that was one of my options – well, as it turned out, there were too many entry level programmers on the market and none of them with the skills "everyone" wanted.
So, I became a cliché. I moved back home with my parents, all my furniture shoved into their front room, and I fulfilled my dream of working in a video store. Then to prove that sometimes it really is who you know, I went to work for my father's friend as an office administrator/secretary. He worked at Stennis Space Center and eventually his connections helped me get my first Assistant System Administrator position with the Navy Research Labs, which led to a programming job at Lockheed-Martin.
From there it was a hop, skip and a jump to finding my real calling in Healthcare IT, meaning for a while, I was underpaid and under-appreciated while over-achieving and being overworked in sometimes unusual conditions – like an un-air-conditioned warehouse in the summer in New Orleans. During those times I wrote programs for hospices on UNIX servers and oil rigs in the Gulf on Windows NT servers.
Once, while working on a lifeboat assignment tool for the oil rigs, Microsoft tech support told me that something couldn’t be done in Visual C++ and I took that as a challenge to prove they were wrong. I did. I have continued to prove that anything can be done on any platform with the right determination, logic, tools, and skill at every job I’ve had since then.
To be honest, I fell into Healthcare IT by accident. The work with hospice software and then finding a programming job at the first hospital were just supposed to be paychecks while I searched for my ideal job, whatever it was going to be. However, I found my calling at the hospital.
My mother is a nurse. I grew up respecting my mother's gift for helping others. One of the reasons I choose to work in the Healthcare IT field is because it gives me the opportunity to continue my mother's legacy of patient care, helping those who need it the most, while using my own gifts. I feel that what I do makes a difference.
As of March, 2014, I have begun an exciting new phase in my career, my life. I have left the safety of working full-time for a hospital and have ventured into the world of consulting as an Interface Developer. Not only will I be seeing the country, it's a wonderful opportunity to meet and work with new people, while sharing my existing skills and knowledge and broadening my experience. This is the job I imagined when I graduated.
My hobbies and interests include photography and writing fiction. Several years ago, I won a QOOP contest to publish a calendar I designed of 12 photographs of Maine.
Currently, I am in the process of editing a completed legal/mystery novel for submission to literary agents. I am a member of Sisters in Crime, an organization devoted to the promotion and development of crime writers.
I am drawn to and passionate about charitable organizations such as Second Harvest and Preble Street food banks and meal kitchens, the American Red Cross, and in particular, animal rescues.