Green River grad Jacob Laqua talks life as a TPM intern at Oracle
As a Technical Program Manager Intern at Oracle, US Army Veteran and Green River College graduate Jacob Laqua is learning firsthand the importance of building productive relationships. In his day-to-day at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure in Seattle, he interfaces with managers, engineers, customers, and everyone in between.
In the Q and A below, Laqua talks about his TPM internship experience, his upcoming admission to the Master of Cybersecurity & Leadership program at the University of Washington, Tacoma, and also offers helpful career tips for students who aspire to careers in technical program management.
What is your job title at Oracle?
JACOB: I am a Technical Program Manager Intern at Oracle as part of a Veteran internship program.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role and what kinds of projects you are working on?
JACOB: I’m part of the Outbound PM team working on Go-to-Market and New Product Introduction activities as well as automation / streamlining of our processes here at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) in Seattle. I work with a combination of Solution Managers on my team, people on Engineering teams, and everyone in-between. Basically, I help make sure our customers find out through various means about the new features we’re releasing in our OCI environment.
What is the culture like at Oracle?
JACOB: The culture at Oracle is rather impressive. Everyone I come into contact with is eager to help and get things done. But, it’s also a culture where everyone is humble enough to know that we may not always be right all there time — and that’s okay! The big thing is that you learn, adapt, and refine. Much like in Lean UX, fail early and resolve issues, which lines up with one of my favorite OCI values: “Act Now, Iterate”. People don’t manage your schedule for you here, you manage your own time. I was surprised on my first day when I asked my manager what time I should be in the next day and she said: “That’s up to you”. With this, self-service is important, you can have quite a lot of freedom, but you have to be productive in return!
What key skills did you develop in Green River’s software development program that prepared you for success?
JACOB: For this specific role, the ability to conduct time-estimates, communicate and collaborate effectively with team and non-team members, and playing the role of ScrumMaster on school projects are things that I learned at Green River College which helped greatly. While how “technical” a TPM role is may very — I did get the chance to use some basics from the SQL class while using Jira Query Language (JQL) to generate Confluence reports.
What career advice would you have for students who are interested in TPM careers?
JACOB: Being able to communicate with others and build working relationships with people is a huge piece to making a successful TPM. It’s important to ask questions! Nobody can read your mind. If you are confused about something and don’t let it be known — it can come back to haunt you. It’s also very important to be a good listener. Sometimes we have to take a step back to assess the situation more fully to ensure we understand. This forces us to have more meaningful contributions when we do speak.
On top of your success at Oracle, you were also recently accepted into the Master of Cybersecurity & Leadership program at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Can you tell us about the MCL program at UWT?
JACOB: This program is a pretty unique graduate degree opportunity. Part of the application process includes submitting two letters of recommendation (your instructors are a great resource for this). There is a large emphasis on leadership and development of communication skills as they pertain to the cyber-security domain. This program is also designed for working professionals. Classes only meet on Saturdays, which enables students to maintain their current job without having to commit long-hours on top of the standard work week. This program only takes a year as well, so it’s great for those who are looking for something unconventional. I’ll be attending next year, Fall 2019!