Title: Manager & Senior Software Developer in the UNLV administration technology services section of the Division of Business Affairs
Years at UNLV: 19, beginning as a student and student employee. She has been a full-time employee since 2008.
Immediate Family: Husband Darren Paulson, who has been at UNLV nearly as long as she has and now is the director of telecommunications; and children Corwin, 10, and Inara, 8.
Community and collaboration are what inspire Rebecca Paulson. She has a strong connection to the UNLV campus and her colleagues are impressed with her hard work and dedication to the UNLV community.
“It seems that anytime we hit a roadblock, Rebecca is able to overcome it and find a solution,” said Andrea Mower of the property control department. “Rebecca is a miracle worker! I would not be able to do my job and be successful without her leadership, guidance, and tenacity.”
Colin Tewey of Delivery Services, noted, “Her contributions to … the UNLV campus community frequently go unrecognized. She continuously is proven to be knowledgeable, hardworking, and dedicated to her staff and colleagues,” he said.
Here, Paulson shares some wisdom gleaned from years of building her career at UNLV.
Tell us about your experience at UNLV.
I started working at the Marjorie Barrick Museum fresh out of high school. Little did I know that I picked a job that could introduce me to so much of the university's history. The group of people that I worked with were amazing, and I always felt like a part of the family. I eventually changed student positions and worked as a student assistant for Dr. Anthony Hechanova, who led the nuclear science and technology department. I found another close team and fostered a sense of purpose in problem-solving.
After graduation, I applied for and received a job with Dr. Hechanova's financial team and worked with them until I was able to obtain a job in my field as an application developer. Luckily, a colleague needed the assistance of a developer and asked me to apply. I wrote my first professional computer program to allow National Park Service employees to add "tags" to pictures. I worked with the ecological monitoring group until our grant funds ran dry, and then I applied for and received a job with the UNLV purchasing office.
I worked with the purchasing team to create the UNLV supplier self-service & registration website, a tool to allow UNLV to comply with NSHE requirements to collect and report on a broad array of information about UNLV suppliers that could not be collected by our legacy finance system, Advantage. It was a fantastic project that allowed me to broaden my programming skills, learn about administrative business processes, improve process workflow between multiple departments, and required me to work with organizations outside of UNLV.
After completing that application, I applied for a job with the MyUNLV development team in the office of information technology. This time, rather than building an application from the ground up, I got the chance to work on a team to modify and maintain our enterprise student system. It takes a lot of people to run a product like PeopleSoft, and the decision to join this team was a foundational experience for my later transition into managing a team.
I now work as a manager of a small IT unit in UNLV administration, within the Business Affairs Division, which consists of developers, project managers, a help desk, and students. We develop and support applications and projects across multiple departments, and work with groups across campus. I know a lot of managers say this, but I have the best team.
What is your favorite thing about working at UNLV?
The people! UNLV is a small town. In my time here, I have gotten to know many people who work in professions drastically different than mine. This community both inspires and humbles me.
What trait do you most like about yourself?
I get along with most of the people that I interact with; making friends and building relationships is almost a talent. I like to think that it comes from my background and experience, but it could just be that the UNLV community is easy to get along with.
If you could learn to master one thing, what would it be?
Knowing my own limits, and managing that boundary. I tend to take on too much, and it often spills over into my personal life. But, rather than letting that take me from my family, I sacrifice sleep. For example, I'm filling out this questionnaire at 11:30 pm on a Friday night.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I'm a closet introvert. When I leave UNLV, it's hard to pull me out to social events.
What inspires or empowers you?
I live for problem-solving. If I see a process that could be improved or come across an idea to make life easier, I hold on to it until I have an opportunity to tease it out. Sometimes this means working with people that don't realize a process can be improved. Sometimes this means building a tool and demonstrating how something can be automated. Either way, if I can help somebody get their job done easier, I feel successful.
In my current position, I've been given the agency to really expand this. One of the "problems" that I'm participating in solving is a paperless initiative that has been floating around UNLV for more than a decade. I'm lucky enough to be able to work on a project with OIT to launch RebelDocs, an electronic forms and approval routing system that will (when it's adopted) reduce the need to complete paper documents, walk them around campus for signatures, and then get stored in file drawers. So exciting!
Tell us about a woman who has been a mentor to you.
I worked with Jennifer Swanson on the MyUNLV development team at UNLV. She helped me to learn the mind tricks necessary to wade through PeopleSoft and empowered me to grow both as a developer and as a member of a diverse team. We grew to be friends while we worked together, and have remained so after I changed jobs. I'm lucky to have her in my life and grateful for her continuous nudges to "go for it" when I ask her advice.
You rock Jen, and I owe you a Starbucks for shining the spotlight on you.
Any advice for young women starting careers on campus?
I graduated from the Advanced Technologies Academy with a certificate in computer science and then earned a bachelor of science in computer science from UNLV (in 2007). This should have been enough proof to remove all of my self-doubts, but it wasn't. I spent five years before I was confident that I could do well in my chosen profession, and soon after realized it was time for me to achieve more.
Change can be intimidating, but your greatest growth and best learning never happen when you're in your comfort zone. If you're being encouraged to do something, you're qualified. If you've got a degree, you're qualified. If you've got experience, you're qualified. Go for it.
Finally, while you're going for it, remember that you're not operating in a bubble. Collaborate with others to build community, acknowledge the work of others (vocally), show ALL of your colleagues respect, and empower those around you to achieve more. If you can do these things, then you might inspire others along your path to success.