Information systems graduate Kyle Hopfer takes technological talents to Centene

by | Jun 11, 2018

Hopfer's career at Centene began with a connection he cultivated at a UMSL-sponsored career fair.
Kyle Hopfer, spring 2018 information systems graduate

May information systems graduate Kyle Hopfer will begin his career at Centene Corporation after interning with the health care firm since his sophomore year at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

For a person who can confidently describe the web applications he’s developed, Kyle Hopfer is surprisingly noncommittal about why he got into the trade.

“I don’t really know,” he said after pondering for a moment. “My parents both worked in IT, and I kind of always had an interest in computers.”

While the curiosity was there, Hopfer said he had yet to transform that interest into a tangible skill by the time he declared an information systems major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He even remembers struggling with the one relevant class he did take in high school.

Still, he decided to take a chance on the field for its array of career opportunities.

In four years, his gamble paid off.

The recent College of Business Administration graduate turned Centene employee is using the skills he developed at UMSL and as a student intern in his new role as an application software developer.

He began interning for the locally based corporation following his sophomore year and has continued on in the years since. His responsibilities cover the lifespan of an application from development to implementation and maintenance.

“I’ve learned a lot from the internship, particularly a lot of technologies,” Hopfer said. “Going into it, Java was the only computer language I was familiar with. But then coming out of this internship, I now know many other languages and also how to implement applications and deploy them. I wasn’t familiar with that process at all going into it.”

While Hopfer’s talent, loyalty and work ethic eventually landed him a full-time role at Centene, he said he likely would not have earned the job placement without UMSL.

As a second-year student, Hopfer not only lacked the confidence that he was in the right field but also a résumé.

Early into the term, he decided to meet with Lynn Willits in UMSL Career Services to build the necessary document. Once that step was complete, Hopfer began attending networking events, including UMSL’s information systems career fair.

That’s where he fatefully handed his freshly designed résumé to a Centene recruiter.

“It’s been a great experience at UMSL, and I’m really happy that I chose to come here,” Hopfer said. “It ended up working out really well for me.”

While at UMSL, Hopfer had a chance to further hone his skills at university-hosted hackathons, an intensive computer-programming competition.

He attended his first UMSL|Hack in 2017 alongside a team of friends and fellow interns. He was unsure how they would fare in the competition but signed up anyway simply for the experience.

After a few days, the team built a degree audit reporting system that also provided a class scheduling roadmap for students. The creation, which they dubbed “Virtual Adviser,” went on to earn a first-place finish for the team.

The team’s initial success spurred their enrollment in four other competitions, which resulted in another top prize at the 2018 UMSL|Hack.

“It’s really fun being able to focus all of your time for a weekend on just developing an application,” he said. “It’s cool going in and not knowing what you are going to build and coming out of it, you have something that you can say that you’ve built over the past two or three days.”

Now that Hopfer is finished with school, he’s ready to refine his skills at Centene.

“I really just want to learn as much as I can,” he said. “I really like what I do and want to progress throughout the years through the organization. I’ll take it one step at a time and see where everything leads me.”

Sara Bell

Sara Bell