Interdisciplinary Studies opens professional door for UC alum

Grad lands role as software engineer for LinkedIn 

By Rebecca Schweitzer 

For many students, college is a time of uncertainty and discovery. It is during these formative years that many learn where their interests lie and what future they hope to create for themselves. This was no different for Jelanah Cheatham, now an alumna of the University of Cincinnati's College of Arts and Sciences.

When Cheatham began at UC in 2014, she felt completely unsure about what career path she hoped to follow. She found herself switching majors multiple times and shifting her post-college aspirations every semester. 

After a few semesters of this routine, Cheatham decided Interdisciplinary Studies seemed like a good option and concentrated her curriculum around Math, Marketing and Computer Science.

Students in the Interdisciplinary Studies program can customize their undergraduate studies to their interests — in subjects as disparate as nutrition, anthropology and creative writing, for example — to create an educational path that is uniquely their own. The Interdisciplinary Program is also ideal for returning students who have accumulated credit hours in different majors but want to complete a degree.

A&S supported my journey in college by offering such an amazing interdisciplinary curriculum and advisors to help me along the way.

Jelanah Cheatham, Software engineer for LinkedIn

“The truth is, when it comes to career interests, there isn’t always a “one size fits all”,” Cheatham said. “A&S supported my journey in college by offering such an amazing Interdisciplinary curriculum and advisors to help me along the way. Thanks to A&S, I was able to focus in not one, but three different disciplines.” 

Following her graduation in 2019, Cheatham began working in a leadership development program at Allstate’s headquarters in Chicago, but her love of computer science from the courses taken at UC stuck in the back of her mind.  

After taking a few months to brush up on her computer science skills, Cheatham decided to take a leap of faith and make the switch from data analysis to back into computer science.  

Cheatham continued working at Allstate but began working as an application developer for the company in June of 2020.  

During this time, she interviewed for several companies, and in April of 2021, Cheatham was hired at LinkedIn in data science as a software engineer.  

Cheatham found that the transferable skills and networking abilities she picked up during her time at UC aided her in gaining mentors and associates along the path of her career, as well as in earning her current profession. 

“I remember being told the importance of networking during my freshman year at orientation,” said Cheatham. “This has always stuck with me.” 

Cheatham’s Interdisciplinary Studies degree made her a unique candidate in the workforce. Despite her initial indecisiveness in college, her combined areas of interest helped her to be flexible and open to trying different things.  

“Interdisciplinary allows you to leverage multiple colleges within the University of Cincinnati and you are able to equip yourself with a ton of skills,” Cheatham said. “This degree singlehandedly prepared me with what I needed to be marketable for any career path I desired.”  

Featured image at top: College of Arts & Sciences alumna and LinkedIn software engineer Jelanah Cheatham.