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UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 5 | May 8, 2003

Computer Science Grad Makes an Impression at Microsoft

Then lands major job at Electronic Arts.

By Michelle Cook

It’s a long road from Russia to the backyard of Bill Gates’ house, but Computer Science student Natali Altshuler made the trip in just nine years.

The vivacious 22-year-old even got a chance to meet the Microsoft chairman in person. The brief encounter occurred last year during a barbeque for interns at Gates’ home. Altshuler says it was one of the highlights of her experience in the Computer Science Co-operative Education Program.

“I got to shake his hand and how many people can say that?” says Altshuler. “The co-op program gave me opportunities I would not have had otherwise.”

Altshuler, who will receive her Bachelor of Science with a minor in Commerce this month, immigrated with her family to Canada when she was 13. Her parents -- both musicians -- wanted to give her and her sister a better life.

She arrived from Russia speaking no English and began Grade 8 as an ESL student. When she graduated from high school, Altshuler was not only fluent but had an unconditional offer of acceptance to UBC with an Outstanding Student Initiative (OSI) scholarship.

She says getting accepted into the computer science co-op program in her second year was one of the best things that ever happened to her.

Through the program, she worked in software development at Motorola Canada Ltd. (which named her Motorola Ambassador to UBC after she completed her work term), and at MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA), where she worked on a naval combat operator-training simulator (MDA gave her a scholarship based on her contribution to the project). Those co-op experiences helped her to land a position as a program manager intern at Microsoft Corp. in Seattle.

An engaging blend of intelligence and charisma, Altshuler shatters the image of computer science majors as quiet, shy technophiles.

In her co-op placements and on campus, Altshuler says she always looked for ways to make an impact. At Motorola, she co-ordinated several large events. At UBC, she was a long-standing executive of the Computer Science Students Society -- eventually becoming president in her final year -- and helped to organize numerous activities including information sessions and a computer-industry career fair.

Although driven by a desire to do her best and make her family proud, Altshuler believes in balancing work and play. It’s a philosophy that will serve her well in her new job as development director at Electronic Arts, the world’s leading developer of electronic games.

“EA is a perfect match for me,” Altshuler says. “What appealed to me is that you’re creating something that people can use and enjoy.”

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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