Honors Alumni Spotlight: Adam Compton (‘04)

When first applying to colleges, UCI Honors alumnus Adam Compton (‘04) was interested in attending a larger school but was concerned about finding a place for himself amidst a large student body. Adam decided to join the Campuswide Honors Collegium because of its close-knit community. “The opportunity that the CHC offered of combining the resources of a large research institution with the support and camaraderie of a smaller school was too good for me to pass up.” As an Honors student, Adam took advantage of various CHC opportunities such as living in Honors housing, taking Honors Humanities Core and Social Science Core classes, and participating in Honors social events and clubs. “I really believe that having access to that tight-knit community helped me thrive at college in a way that I suspect I would not have done as just one more face in the crowd at a larger university.”

When asked about what he believes to be the single most valuable trait needed to navigate the ever-changing environment of business and tech, Adam shares that it is the willingness to try and tackle new problems. He gives the example of taking courses unrelated to your major. Although Adam was an undergrad majoring in Information and Computer Science (ICS), he considers English 102D (which at the time was “Literature of Modernization”) the most valuable course of his entire college career. Adam was mainly comfortable with ICS curriculum, yet this English course exposed him to many topics and ideas he’d never known existed. “The broader lesson I took from that experience is that it’s critically important to stray off the beaten path a bit and expose yourself to new experiences and challenges. It’s so easy to hunker down and stay in your comfort zone, but taking a risk on something that isn’t already in your wheelhouse can be life-changing.”

After graduating from UCI, Adam began his career in software engineering in what he calls a “non-traditional start.” Adam began by working in data entry and technical support. Eventually, he got a job at a small startup doing datacenter management and system administration, which meant setting up new computers and replacing broken hard drives. Adam states how working at this small startup led to his career growth, “Since the startup was growing rapidly, I was able to contribute in lots of different areas and I eventually grew into a software engineering role.”

Today, Adam Compton is a Senior Software Engineer for computer software company Slack. When asked about what he enjoys most about his job, Adam shares, “On a professional level, I appreciate getting to work with some of the smartest and most capable people I’ve ever met on problems at a scale that very few other organizations can manage. On a personal level, Slack is very committed to helping bring people together; the company regularly donates service upgrades to worthy organizations and communities, and the scope of what we did to support coronavirus research and response teams was really amazing to see. I love working for a company that is both able and willing to do so much to help people in need.”

Adam offers this valuable advice to current Campuswide Honors students, “You have the opportunity to learn and grow, right now, today, in ways you’ll never have again once you graduate and enter the real world of jobs, family, mortgage payments, and all of the other accoutrements of adult life. Take advantage of it! Take classes in things that interest you, even outside your major; join clubs and meet people from other walks of life; attend events and lectures and anything else that seems interesting.”

Connect with Adam Compton or find more career-specific information on LinkedIn.