Computer science major Ethan Scott ’25 attended an alumni panel of recent computer science majors who spoke about their career paths. Below, he shares his reflections on their journeys. 

Paul Bass ’20, software engineer at Indeed 

Bass shared insights into navigating technical interviews — the gateway to entry-level positions in the tech industry. 

  • Bass said technical interviews are among the toughest challenges you will face as a tech professional. However, he assured us that once you navigate through this phase and secure an entry-level job, it’s smooth sailing. 
  • He cautioned against merely solving LeetCode problems without understanding the underlying algorithms and approaches. 
  • He recommended delving into the essence of these problems to grasp their fundamental concepts. 
  • He advised candidates to research the prospective company and familiarize themselves with the types of questions typically asked during interviews. This tailored preparation can significantly enhance your chance of success.

Moreover, Bass emphasized the significance of networking and building meaningful connections within the tech community. He highlighted how networking opportunities can open doors to new career prospects and professional growth, echoing the sentiment that success in the tech industry often hinges on both technical ability and interpersonal relationships. 

Hayley LeBlanc ’20, a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin

Hayley LeBlanc provided advice for students considering graduate school in computer science. 

  • She encouraged them to take a diverse range of computer science classes during their undergraduate studies to explore various areas of interest. 
  • She suggested that gaining industry experience before pursuing a master’s degree can be beneficial, as it provides practical insights and enhances your application to graduate programs.

Caileigh Marshall ’19, senior software engineer at 3M

Marshall has experience working on a diverse range of projects, from architecting DynamoDB on the backend side of things to providing guidance on UX projects. She provided insights into fostering a collaborative and inclusive work culture. 

  • She stressed the importance of being open to learning and not being afraid to take on new projects. 
  • She highlighted the value of teamwork and diversity in driving innovation within tech organizations. 
  • She emphasized embracing new challenges and echoed the sentiment that growth often occurs outside your comfort zone. 

She also shared internship advice for individuals preparing to intern this summer, offering guidance on how to stand out in a competitive environment. 

  • She emphasized the significance of proactivity and initiative, encouraging interns to seek out opportunities to contribute beyond their assigned tasks. 
  • She suggested networking with colleagues, asking questions, and actively seeking feedback to demonstrate a strong work ethic and eagerness to learn. By showcasing a genuine enthusiasm for their work and a willingness to go above and beyond, interns can leave a lasting impression and maximize their learning experiences during their time at the company.

Haley Nugent ’18, senior consultant at CGI

Nugent emphasized the importance of adaptability in the tech industry. 

  • She highlighted the significance of continuously updating your skill set to stay relevant amidst rapid technological advancements. 
  • She provided valuable advice on staying up to date with the industry and honing one’s skill set. 
  • She recommended leveraging a variety of resources such as YouTube channels like NeetCodeIO and Fireship, workshops, conferences, and industry publications to keep abreast of the latest trends, tools, and technologies.
  • She emphasized the importance of seeking out opportunities for hands-on experience and experimenting with new technologies to deepen your understanding and expertise. By embracing a mindset of lifelong learning and proactively seeking out new knowledge, tech professionals can position themselves for success in an ever-evolving industry landscape.

Sardor Taylakov ’19, senior software engineer at Navan

Sardor Taylakov’s daily work involves implementing services in NestJS to handle travel and expense support operations, leveraging large language models such as GPT, OpenChat, Mixtral, and Claude. 

Taylakov also opened up about his difficult journey of finding a job after school, which was particularly challenging because he’s from outside the United States. He underscored the significance of perseverance and resilience and shared anecdotes of overcoming challenges and setbacks, emphasizing how grit and determination can pave the way for success in the competitive tech landscape.

  • He emphasized the transformative power of networking, highlighting how connections made during his internship ultimately led to him receiving a full-time offer.
  • He urged students to stay up to date with emerging technologies such as AI and Large Language Models. 
  • He emphasized the importance of incorporating these advancements into their skill set to remain competitive in the industry, adding they can stay up to date by following different tech blog forums, LinkedIn, or YouTube. 

Adapted from an article on Knowlton Connect, Denison’s career exploration platform.

April 2, 2024