Daniel Ansher

Occupation:  Software engineer, Amazon
Education: Wootton HS (Academy of Information Technology), Georgia Tech

Besides being based in Santa Monica, what’s the coolest thing about your job?
There are so many things. I work on Amazon Prime Video and figure out ways to train computer models to detect any defects. My work impacts everything from Japanese anime shows to movies in Germany. I’m part of something that affects the entire world. Also, there’s a culture here that encourages risk-taking. If I have an idea that will benefit the company, I can go for it. If it pans out, great. If it fails, that’s okay too.

You went through the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT)  at Wootton High School.  Was that a good choice for you?
I attribute all of my success to that program! The upper-level courses I took through AOIT, including one that was held at Montgomery College, gave me an edge. I learned foundational computing concepts ahead of other incoming freshmen at Georgia Tech. As a computer science major, other students were still ramping up on the foundational material while I was able to move on to more advanced topics. 

Did you already know you wanted to pursue a career in computing when you signed up for the academy in high school?
Growing up, I never imagined pursuing this career. I always enjoyed computers, and the experience I received in high school through the classes and internship heightened my interest. Little did I know that I would land a job in the entertainment industry for an incredible company like Amazon.

Do you think your high school experience has helped you in your job?
I think it’s one of the reasons why I have a great job. I was able to start learning about relevant technologies earlier than my peers. The academy helped me develop the soft skills you need in the computing field, such as collaboration. In high school, we would work on programming in pairs so that we could teach and learn from each other. In my current role, I spend a lot of time with my team on projects and collaborating effectively with all types of people. Soft skills are just as important as the technical skills you need to be successful. 

What will you be doing in the next five years?
I definitely want to stay in the computing field in some capacity. My skills can transfer to just about any industry. I’ll probably get an MBA and move for a few years to Asia, where the tech industry is booming. I have a lot of options to explore and that’s pretty cool for a 22-year-old!

Do you have any advice for high school students?
Be open to trying new things outside of your comfort zone. And I would encourage more females to pursue computing careers. There’s definitely a gender gap in this industry, and I believe that if women could see the full potential and impact of the field, they would be interested. The technology industry isn’t going anywhere, and in the near future, every field will need to adapt technology into their daily processes.