Sierra Ladin never set out to teach herself to code in Python. With a month to fill between the end of her junior year and an internship in analytics with AT&T, she figured she’d bone up on the basics to better communicate with the programmers with whom she would be working.
Then, as they say, one thing led to another.
“I knew that all of my team members had this skill set and it was really central to what we wanted to do, and so it was just something that I decided to do on my own,” she explained. “I just started taking free classes online and then once I was actually doing the internship, there was a bunch of internal resources for me. And honestly, I just ended up loving it.”
The internship illuminated a new path for Ladin, who spent her senior year fusing the financial analytical skills built as a finance and marketing student, her naturally collaborative personality and her self-taught IT chops. As she wraps up her final classes and prepares for a job with Deloitte helping clients transform enterprise platforms to fit their needs, Ladin admits that even she was at first surprised that she found such an affinity for programming. After a little self-reflection, however, she recognized that mashing code was just giving her a new avenue to play to her goals of uplifting and empowering others in the business sector.
“I realize technology and processes enable people,” Ladin said. “They allow people to be better at what they’re passionate about and to do more of what they love to do. I saw this really nice cross section I had never considered before.”
A Journey of Self-Discovery
Ladin’s College of Business experience was full of surprises and self-discovery, starting with her academic success. While she admits that grades weren’t her primary focus as a high school student, when she arrived at the College of Business, she quickly buckled down, polished those study skills that would later help her teach herself to code, and focused on academics, ultimately landing on the Dean’s List.
Study habits were just a part of Ladin’s formula for success at the College of Business. She had never even visited Colorado when she became a student, and found ways to take advantage of everything the College had to offer. She earned her international business certificate during a junior-year study-abroad experience in Prague, spent two summers in internships with AT&T and was part of a five-student team to advance to nationals in the KPMG Innovation and Collaboration Challenge.
Those experiences built an impressive resume of extracurriculars, but it was her membership in the Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity that had the greatest impact. Serving as the fraternity’s vice president of scholarships and awards and later chancellor, she seized opportunities to build leadership skills.
“In terms of confidence I think that was the one organization that really was the biggest catalyst for me,” she says of the fraternity. “What I was told was, ‘You know, if you’re going to fail, you might as well do it here because we’re here to uplift you. We can help you move past these mistakes.’”
That spirit of support wasn’t unique to Delta Sigma Pi, but also mirrored her own ambitions. Like many freshmen, Ladin entered the College of Business with vague career goals. She knew she wanted to leverage her outgoing nature and people skills, but wasn’t sure where her future lay. Fortunately, her classwork prepared her for wherever her future lay – even when it took a detour after discovering her love of computer programming.
“The way that the curriculum is built here made it very easy for me to translate all of my classes into what I was really passionate about and what I wanted to do,” she said. “I think the fact that it’s a land-grant institute and focused on business for good, so those ethics and conscious capitalism were fused into so many of my courses. That just made me feel like everything that I learn here is just going to help me uplift other people in the future.”