From St. Olaf to Silicon Valley
Want to know all about Olaf? Just ask St. Olaf College student Elijah Verdoorn ’18.
Verdoorn led the creation of the latest version of a mobile app called “All About Olaf,” which provides menus, building hours, calendars, and much more on an easily accessible platform for students’ convenience.
Drew Volz ’16, Hawken Rives ’16, and Matt Kilens ’16 began work on All About Olaf in the summer of 2013. In 2016 Verdoorn joined the development team to help expand the capabilities of the app, now installed by more than half of the St. Olaf student body.
All About Olaf isn’t Verdoorn’s only contribution to campus life. He also serves as the chief technology officer for the Student Government Association (SGA), heading the team that keeps its site Oleville up and running.
Verdoorn first became interested in working with computers when his parents asked him to set up their home Wi-Fi router.
This interest in computers led Verdoorn to major in computer science and mathematics at St. Olaf and pursue a summer internship with Proto Labs, which the Star Tribune has called “one of Minnesota’s leading technology companies.” St. Olaf alumnus Brad Cleveland ’82, the former CEO of Proto Labs, helped the Piper Center for Vocation and Career develop an entrepreneurial competition called Ole Cup.
As a software development intern at Proto Labs, Verdoorn was tasked with writing code to manage manufacturing processes, quality assurance, and order management. Not only did he improve his software development skills through the internship, but he also learned more about the value of teamwork.
“In the professional world, there are no lone wolf programmers,” says Verdoorn. “You always work in a team.”
Verdoorn is considering software engineering and research as potential career paths after graduating from St. Olaf.
To further explore the software engineering field, Verdoorn recently accepted an internship with Pandora Media. As part of the Android team, he will be contributing to the development of the Pandora mobile app.
“I’m especially excited about this opportunity because it is out of Oakland, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley,” says Verdoorn. “Having traveled there with the Piper Center for the Connections Program trip over Interim break this year, I’m looking forward to returning to the Bay Area.”
The Piper Center’s Connections Program connects students with St. Olaf’s vast network of alumni nationwide, specifically in metropolitan areas. The trips are focused on industries in particular cities with a critical mass of alumni, who help students broaden their perspective on what they can do with a liberal arts education.
“My time at St. Olaf has taught me so much, not only in the classroom but also from student organizations and other out-of-the-classroom opportunities,” Verdoorn says. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the St. Olaf community through All About Olaf, and I look forward to continuing my education through the many opportunities that St. Olaf has afforded me.”