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Cheryl Atkinson ('88)

Alumna Cheryl Atkinson

Cheryl Atkinson
Associate Director, Product Management at Concentrix
Class of '88

I have had a 30+ year career in computer science, doing everything from programming when I was first out of school to design, management, and now product management. I started working remotely back in 1995 when my husband's career moved us. This was before broadband internet and the ability to VPN into IT systems. The best technology available was an ISDN line into our house. Luckily, after a couple of years we were able to connect through the internet and everything became simpler. We have three kids who were born in three different states, again due to the moves in my husband's career. I have loved the flexibility that working from home has  allowed us in raising a family and where we have lived.

How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’...

Virginia Tech’s program equipped me for being a problem solver. Anyone can learn a tool; the real value is being able to solve problems. This really came in handy as I was dealing with IT and systems connectivity issues in those pre-internet years of remote working. 

Being a Virginia Tech alumna means...

I am proud to be a Virginia Tech alumna of an incredible program and participate in small ways in the Hokie community. It has been great to meet fellow Hokies everywhere we have lived and worked (VA, MD, SC, TN, TX, WA, and NC).

My fondest memory from my time in the department is...

The camaraderie with my classmates. When I was at Tech, we didn’t have laptops. Instead you went to the computer lab to do your assignments. I spent many nights and weekends with my fellow classmates in the lab. It was difficult and frustrating at times, but it was also a lot of fun. 

My best tip for working remotely is...

To create a space you call your office and treat going to your office as going to work every day. This will also let you step away and “go home” at the end of your day. 

My advice for women just getting started in computer science is...

There are so many opportunities in computer science. Search for an area you love and go for it.  You can make a difference. Being a woman on teams that have at times been predominantly male has allowed me to bring a different perspective to problem solving and hopefully made the teams more effective.