Originally from New Milford, CT, Alexander Zevin knew from a young age that he wanted to use technology in a business setting. As he was sitting down in his math, computer science, and business classes, he saw each new concept and theory as a stepping stone that could be used to bring about change and increased efficiency. Throughout high school, Zevin used this entrepreneurial mindset to work on a variety of projects, including a small business venture. Mixed with a growing interest in finance, he soon realized that he wanted to understand business from a financial standpoint to supplement his innovative ideas. As a result, he became a Computer Science and Finance dual-degree student at the University of Connecticut, and has since been working on building the business acumen necessary to become a well-rounded business professional.
Now finishing up his sophomore year at UConn, Zevin sits across from me in the Gladstein Lab, OPIM Innovate’s hub for technological exploration. As we speak, a 3D printer is working on making a student’s design become a reality. It is distracting to me, but is very commonplace for Zevin. He is comfortable in this lab, it now being almost a year since he became a lab specialist for the OPIM Innovate initiative. The gentle hum sparks conversation regarding his work here. “I see the enormous benefit this initiative has on the University as a whole,” Zevin says. “When I first started working here, we weren’t as situated as we are now [with the learning opportunities the Lab has to offer], and it’s satisfying to see [the initiative] grow. Also, on a personal level, I’ve become more experienced with a lot of these emerging technologies we research. I didn’t quite understand the applications for virtual reality (VR), for instance, but the more I use it the more I see the practical functions for it.” Next semester, Zevin will actually be helping a graduate student from the UConn Department of Psychology utilize VR to reduce stuttering in patients. “I have been helping her prepare by advising her on the equipment she can use and the technical capabilities of VR. It just goes to show how this technology can be used in a variety of fields.”
Outside the OPIM Innovate initiative, Zevin has remained incredibly active in terms of academic opportunities. Viewing his college experience as a way to expand his mind as much as possible, he has been consistently challenging himself since his freshman year. “When I began college, I came with the mindset of wanting to learn and wanting to change–I wanted to become a better version of myself,” Zevin admits. As a result, he refused to remain inside of his comfort zone, and in turn increased his level of self-confidence by testing his skills. In his first month at UConn, for example, Zevin got involved in the annual Management Information Systems (MIS) Case Competition. “My team consisted of myself and three other freshman students,” Zevin recalls. “We were up against juniors and seniors, and we hadn’t even taken a business course yet. The case was about using Internet of Things (IoT) to help increase the efficiency of UConn facilities, so we decided to focus on preemptive maintenance.” Zevin describes the experience as “nerve-wracking,” and as he talks about winning first place, he still seems a bit surprised by it. “The month after that, we did a case competition with PwC, and we placed first again. Then we did one for Cigna, and we placed second. So, while participating in these competitions did improve my confidence, they also helped increase my business acumen–we had to do our research, we had to do our due diligence.”
Zevin has been doing his due diligence in everything that he does, enough to get him the position of Vice President in the Information Management Association (IMA). There, he attempts to create a sense of community for all UConn students, regardless of their academic backgrounds. “What we’re trying to do is reshape IMA by getting people from all sorts of disciplines inside the Innovate Lab. We want these students to become involved with the technologies Innovate has to offer, not only for their personal curiosity but also for their fields.”
In his professional pursuits, Zevin interned for United Technologies the summer of his freshman year. Working with one of their branches, Otis Elevator Company, he was tasked with assisting business professionals with developing a live chat feature for Otis’ next-generation Customer Portal application. In addition to this project, he assisted Otis with connecting the Customer Portal with their existing IoT products, his role as a point of contact evolving into a new internship opportunity. “This summer, I’ll be working with Collins Aerospace in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m very excited about that, to travel to a new place, and to learn about a new industry. My role will be finance- and technology-oriented, but I don’t have the details quite yet.”
Reflecting on his personal success so far as a student and budding professional, Zevin has this advice to say to incoming UConn freshmen: “Go to class, attend office hours, and if you can’t explain the subject matter to somebody else, have a conversation with your professors or [their teaching assistants] until you can. Also, become involved in your campus community and start setting goals for yourself–they’re a great way to start thinking about the future.”
To keep up with Alex Zevin and his professional development, follow him on his website: alexzevin.com.