Emily Van Haren

Emily Van Haren, Madison College grad

Madison Area Technical College

IT - Mobile Apps, 2015

Software Engineer, Apple, Inc.

Emily Van Haren can hardly believe it; just months after earning her associate degree at Madison College she’s working at Apple, Inc., in California.

She started developing websites while in middle school and by the time she was 16, Emily was developing sites for clients and getting paid for it. When she graduated from high school in 2009, Emily thought she would take classes at Madison College and transfer to the University of Wisconsin – Madison for an Electrical Engineering degree.

“Madison College was close by and cheaper than going to UW,” she explained. “My Dad went there for auto refinishing classes and ended up teaching a few courses.”

Emily liked the small class sizes and personal attention from passionate instructors. “The class assignments were hands-on and realistic,” she added. “It was a great experience.”

While taking classes for the Electrical Engineering Technology program, Emily also worked in the field, soldering motherboards and testing them for Hi-Techniques, a data acquisition firm. However, her employer realized her interest in skills in web development and transitioned her into those duties.

After one and a half years in the Electrical Engineering Technology program, Emily switched to the college’s Web Development program and spent one year pursuing that degree.

The first day of a programming class she realized she wanted even more of a challenge. The instructor informed her there was a more rigorous class right across the hall that might better suit her interests and abilities. The iOS Development class suited her so well she decided to enroll in the Mobile App Development program.

In the spring of 2013, Emily created an application and submitted it to an international competition. Emily’s work earned her a spot in Apple’s Cocoa Camp, a weeklong workshop, training opportunity in August of that year. She was one of only 25 attendees from around the world. (Cocoa is a development platform.)

The Cocoa Camp led to an internship in the summer of 2014. At the end of the internship Apple management wanted to hire her, but told her to return to Madison and finish her associate degree first. Emily finished her degree in May 2015. Now, she is part of the Apple Developer Publications team creating software used to write documentation for developers.

“It’s challenging and keeps me very busy,” she said. “The teams are small and I really enjoy the people I am working with. Our responsibilities are very focused and there are a lot of resources available to us.”

Still she says it is “very surreal” to be living in California and working at Apple, Inc.