Temple computer science dropout Becca Refford has no regrets - Technical.ly Philly

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Feb. 13, 2017 10:33 am

Temple computer science dropout Becca Refford has no regrets

Two years ago, we wrote about why one technologist chose to not finish her degree. Here's what she's up to now.

Becca Refford came to NET/WORK Philly with her new team at CreativeMMS.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

When we last talked to Becca Refford, she had recently dropped out of Temple University, where she had been pursuing her computer science degree. Refford, who was 21 at the time, felt like the curriculum wasn’t practical enough. She opted to do an apprenticeship with dev firm Chariot Solutions instead.

The story spurred a debate among our readers about the value of college for technologists — check out the comments — and was one of the most-trafficked pieces of 2015.

Refford herself wrote in the comments: “Reading these responses initially made me question my stance, but I’m happy to have been in the middle of such a debate — it brought some colorful responses from the community.”

So we were excited to run into Refford at Technical.ly’s tech jobs fair, NET/WORK, almost two years since that first story, and see what she’s been up to.

There were a few changes in her life since the story first dropped: Refford moved from North Philly, near Temple, to the Italian Market area. She’s gotten more into the design side of tech (“Design has my heart,” she said), though she’s still doing development. And most notably, she just joined a new company, a WordPress shop out of CityCoHo called CreativeMMS that had a booth at NET/WORK.

She left Chariot, where she worked after her internship, because she wanted to do more design work. She also felt that CreativeMMS was a better culture fit. “I can go to happy hours [with the team] and be a goofball,” she said.

Still, Refford’s thankful for her time at Chariot and gave a shoutout to her two mentors there, Ken Rimple and Tracey Welson-Rossman.

In an email, Refford wrote:

Tracey was my career mentor and encouraged me to always keep challenging myself (speaking, saying yes to new projects), showing up, and meeting people. Ken was a super patient technical mentor who made me feel comfortable making mistakes and gave me the tools not to make them again. Both saved me from getting tripped up on certain things in my own life by sharing their lessons learned from things that had tripped them up in their own.

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Among the things she learned over the last 18 months, she said:

Mentors are there for guidance but they shouldn’t make your decisions for you. Obviously they have a certain amount of stock in the path that you choose but at the end of the day, you have to make the decisions that feel right in your gut. A good mentor will support that.

As for the story, she said several people told her they felt validated reading about her college experience.

And of course, we had to ask about that: any regrets?

“Not at all,” she said.

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VIEW COMMENTS
  • alchemism

    Systems Administration…..IT Operations……Network Engineering…..Information Security….. each a profession with six-figure salary in its own right. Yet the only way to “go to school for computers” is to learn a bunch of useless Computer Science that only advanced programmers will ever use.

    I dropped out of school back in the first Dot.Com era…….and my career has been VERY good for it. My peers that did get degrees (even Ivy League….) are still in massive debt today and make much less than me.

  • John Bezanis

    The failure here is that Temple should’ve steered her to the IS&T program or an art program. The IS&T program was very practical when I was a CS major at Temple (01-05), and I was a little jealous of all of the cool web stuff they were making while we were doing more theoretical things. In CS, there were a decent amount of electives where you could learn practical skills, but you had to get past the core requirements.

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