Master of Professional Studies (MPS) student Giri Kuncoro came to Cornell Information Science after working in the tech industry for three years. During his time as a dual engineer and product developer, Giri became fascinated with the interaction between humans and technology and chose to pursue studies in the field of Information Science. Currently a second-semester MPS student, Giri plans to pursue his Info Sci studies for a third semester, allowing him to take more classes, participate in student events like hackathons, and to serve as a teaching assistant. He will graduate in May 2016.

How did your career path lead to Information Science?

Before coming to Cornell, I was working in a tech giant company in Tokyo for three years. I acted as the bridge between engineering and customers – talking to customers to gather requirements, designing the system architecture, determining product features, guiding the software developers to build the product, and delivering the project until site commissioning tests in the field. I was also immersed in vast amounts of information that could be used to solve interesting problems. I enjoyed it very much and was determined to further my study at this intersection between technology and humans, which is the core behind the Information Science field. I foresee myself becoming a tech professional who not only knows how to code, but is capable of analyzing information and understanding what people want from products.

What were some of the reasons you decided to pursue an MPS from Cornell?

I am a tech enthusiast who enjoys interdisciplinary works and playing with data. Infosci is known for its interdisciplinary structure, not only the strong technical foundation on “how” to build, but also the “why” behind the technology. I failed my own startup before coming to Cornell, not because my team didn’t have the required technical skills to build the product, but because we couldn’t build it the way that people wanted. Design courses and human studies offered by Infosci are incredibly beneficial to succeed in my next future startup. 

Additionally, Cornell gives you freedom to add courses, and most graduate schools do not provide that option. This expanded my interdisciplinary perspective further by selecting extensive area of courses from outside the department as well. And finally, the reputation of Cornell University was a factor that strongly motivated me to apply. I have admired the university for quite some time. Cornell is known as an Ivy League university that brings innovations and ambitions to the world.

What do you like about the program thus far?

Besides great professors who are very good at teaching, I’m also surrounded by really smart students. With this, the learning environment is very conducive, not only does it help me to learn faster, but it also supports exploring technology from a rich point of view, which generates lots of new ideas to make our world better. By “catching” these ideas, my friends and I joined many student tech competitions, such as venture challenge and hackathon, and just won our fourth trophy this year.

Really? Tell us about it.

Fintech was held in early October at Cornell Tech, in the Google New York office building. Fintech was one of the most interesting hackathons I’ve ever participated in. As opposed to other hackathons that revolve around technical difficulty, this hackathon was focused on the viability of the business model and novelty of the business idea. The Cornell Tech campus was great, and I met many of the Cornell Tech students. My team consisted of many of my good friends, including Allie Meng and Abhishek Agarwal, who are studying CS here at Cornell. We created a mobile money platform for the underbanked/unbanked in Mexico and Latin America. After a fun and tough 24 hours of hacking, we won first place for the “Next 10 Million Fintech Mobile Users.” 

What are your plans after graduation?

I would like to work for a data-driven tech company as a full-stack software engineer who hacks the technology stack in breadth as well as depth – from backend coding to user interface and user experience design. Since I have experience working in a big tech company in Tokyo and another big company this past summer in New York, I would prefer to work in a small or startup company. I feel my work would have a greater impact; I would have the opportunity to learn technical aspects as well as how to shape products and grow a successful business. All the experience I gain would be invaluable when I go back to my home country of Indonesia, where I hope to create the next big thing with my own startup company.