Just four years after graduating from Carthage, Isaac Rothenbaum ’11 was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 in the tech category after a job search app he developed was featured in the Wall Street Journal.
“At that point we were averaging four to six downloads per day,” says Mr. Rothenbaum. “That day we were at 130 by noon and by that night our servers crashed due to the load.”
Despite his success, Mr. Rothenbaum didn’t think he’d ever go back to a startup company again. But now he’s back it, living in New York City and is the Chief Technology Officer for Akwyar, an emergency response app.
Convinced he was going to major in graphic design at Carthage, Mr. Rothenbaum credits a J-Term class and Dr. Mark Mahoney for helping him uncover his interest in computer science.
“I’ve talked with Dr. Mahoney about this a few times and he consistently downplays his role in mentoring me, but I will swear to the end of my days that he was the best professor I ever had. Many days it was just me and him in class. I can’t stress enough how useful it was for my learning to have that kind of direct attention.”
Mr. Rothenbaum was the recipient of several awards while at Carthage including a Carthage Beacon Award and as a swimmer at Carthage he was the recipient of the NCAA DIII Sportsmanship Award in 2009.
“I’ve learned that the ‘real world’ is all about networking, establishing a rapport with people, being friendly, kind, well rounded, and likable. Carthage’s liberal arts education laid the perfect groundwork for success in this area.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
Meeting other startup founders and hearing the problems they’re trying to solve.
How did Carthage prepare you?
Small companies require their employees to wear many different hats. Carthage’s liberal arts education - and my time participating in athletics and fraternity life - helped prepare me for the realities of startup life. There’s more to software engineering than writing code.
How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?
I credit Carthage’s J-Term with guiding me towards Computer Science. My freshman year -when I had every intention of being a graphic designer- I took a class called “Build your own robot army”. The class was like an intro to circuitry/coding where each student was taught to make a little autonomous car that would follow a course and avoid obstacles. Each car was supposed to have 2 proximity sensors, but one of mine broke and so I spent a lot of time designing a collision avoidance loop that could work with one sensor instead of two. I had so much fun doing it that I declared a major in Computer Science the next day. If not for Carthage’s J-Term, which encourages students to take risks and explore classes outside their intended major, I might never have discovered my love of coding.
Tips for current Carthage students:
Stay for J-Term. Play a sport (even if it’s club and even if you’re bad) Meet lots of people. Make some friends. Don’t stress it.
Favorite Carthage memories:
Some of my favorite memories are things the administration would not approve of. But the things that make these memories extra special are the laughs I have retelling them with the great friends I made at Carthage.