2/8/19: Careers in CS (Alumni talk)

Join five Grinnell CS alumni for an informal talk about careers in software design and development.

Friday, February 8, 2019
12:00-12:50 pm
Noyce 2022

After the presentation, they will hold informal "office hours" and be available to talk to students in the CS commons, 1:00-1:50 pm.

CS Table 11/6/18: Tech Company Jobs, Then and Now

This week we’ll look at an interesting article that compares the situations for janitors at two tech companies in two different eras: Kodak in the 1980s, and Apple in 2017. The article paints an interesting picture of how employment at tech companies has changed over the last four decades. In addition to the specifics in the article, I hope we’ll have an opportunity to discuss the role that tech companies (or any employer) might play in economic inequality, the availability of blue-collar jobs, and the changing landscape of career opportunities.

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now. Neil Irwin. The New York Times. 3 Sept 2017.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Extra 10/8/18: Alumni Talk Careers

Thursday, October 4, 2018
4:15 p.m. in Science 2022 (note the room is different than usual)

Careers in Computer Science and Informal Talk by Grinnell CS Alumni
Cassie Koomjian '05, Ian Young '08, Terian Koscik '12, and Alex Leach '06 talk about their careers and experiences in the software design and development field.

CS Extra: Life and Career after Grinnell (Lessons from Alumni)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
4:15 p.m. in Science 2021

Note the different location and different day of the week: WEDNESDAY in Noyce 2021.

The CS department and the CLS are co-sponsoring an alumni panel on Life and Career and Diversity and Inclusion after Grinnell in Tech. The cast of players will include CSC 322 Mentors Cassie Koomjian '05, Alex Leach '06, Ian Young '08, and Terian Koscik '12; and Megan Goering '08 of Human Centered Design and her partner Joe Mellin of Microsoft. They will all give a brief description of their life and careers and then have time for questions and answers.

TUESDAY Extra 10/10: Chat with CS Alumni

TUESDAY, October 10, 2017
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

Come meet with Wes Beary '05, Cassie Koomjian '05, Terian Koscik '12, Alex Leach '06, and Ian Young '08, the alumni mentors for CSC 321. They will discuss issues they have encountered as computing professionals and answer questions you have about life after Grinnell.

Thursday Extra on 2/11: Alumni Career Discussion

Thursday, February 11, 2016
4:15 pm in Noyce 3821

Visit with four CS alumni: Ian Young '08, Cassie Koomjian '05, Jonathan Koomjian '03, and Wes Beary '05. Each will give a short overview of their post-Grinnell careers, and then they will answer questions from students.

Refreshments at 4:00 in the CS Commons (Noyce 3817), followed by the discussion at 4:15 in Noyce 3821.

Thursday Extra: "Careers on Rails"

On Thursday, October 2, Wes Beary 2005, Alex Leach 2006, Cassie Schmitz 2005, and Ian Young 2008 will discuss Web development and infrastructure using the Ruby on Rails Web application framework and “agile development” methods. In this panel, they will describe their career paths and answer questions about their work developing software as a service.

Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). The panel discussion, “Careers on Rails: Grinnell CS Alumni in Web Development and Infrastructure” will follow at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Women in computing / Computer Science Table: Recruiting and hiring technical women

At this Friday's session of Women in Computing / CS Table, we'll discuss efforts to recruit and hire technical women. We will consider a variety of resources related to this issue.

First, two popular press articles on Etsy's efforts to build its staff of women technologists:

Second, an article on “affirmative effort”:

Finally, we will consider a series of short approaches from the National Center for Women in Technology's “Pacesetters” program:

Computer Science Table is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Fridays at noon in the Day PDR (the first PDR at the top of the stairs in the Marketplace/Cafeteria, also known as Rosenfield 224A). Faculty, staff, and students on meal plans are expected to pay the cost of their meals. Students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

Thursday Extra: "Technical internships"

On Thursday, October 18, Dilan Ustek 2014, Aditi Roy 2013, Tolu Alabi 2013, Maijid Moujaled 2014, and David Cowden 2013 will discuss the technical internships they have done at Microsoft, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Pikuzone, and Iowa Health System. They will talk about their experiences at big technical companies, a start-up, and the IT department of a health organization. Come to learn about these various experiences and what to do in order to get them!

Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). The talk, Technical internships, will follow at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Why study computer science?

Students pair programming

Interview any group of computing folks, and you will find diverse personalities, interests, priorities, learning styles, and preferences about work environments. Ask these people what brought them to computing, and you will get an equally diverse range of answers. Here are some common responses, categorized into the areas of problem solving, contributions to society, and career options.

Problem Solving

Students at work
  • Computer science requires creativity, insights, background, and skill in problem solving. Each new application, problem, and opportunity presents an new range of problems, and computer scientists enjoy finding solutions. Computing folks thrive on the challenge of solving puzzles.
  • Computing problems provide intellectual stimulation. Investigations often start with a high-level vision for a technique or application or system. Creative exploration and analysis takes computer scientists through various levels of abstraction and detail. Eventually, this work results in a working algorithm or system that provides an effective solution.
  • Much problem solving in computer science entails a wonderful mixture of theory and practice. The field of computing includes a rich and deep theory that provides a framework for thinking about problems and solutions. In many cases, this theory has direct impact on the development of real systems.

Contributions to Society

Student counselor with middle school code campers
  • Since computers support so many parts of contemporary society (e.g., in transportation, medicine, engineering, economics, entertainment, technical theater, record keeping, insurance—the list seems endless), work in the computing field provides the opportunity to contribute to many aspects of society. Computing applications have great potential to help address human needs and improve the quality of life.
  • Computer science is inherently interdisciplinary. Many computing applications connect computer scientists with professionals in many disciplines. Complex systems draw upon multiple subjects and perspectives, so most computing folk work with a diverse range of people. Long gone are the days when computing was a solitary enterprise. Today, system developers usually work in teams, and work includes extensive personal interactions with clients and colleagues.
  • By its nature, computer science draws on diverse disciplines as part of the problem-solving process. For example, Computing Curricula 2001 identifies at least three major "processes" that come together in computer science.
    • Theory uses the mathematical model of deductive reasoning from axioms to logical consequences.
    • Abstraction uses the scientific method to collect data, create models of problems and environments, design experiments, and analyze results.
    • Design uses the methodology of engineering to clarify requirements of a problem, design and implement solutions, and develop patterns for testing.

Career Possibilities

Intro. CS Discussion

  • Despite many news reports regarding off shoring, the field of computing has remarkable potential for long-term careers.
    • Within the United States, employment in the IT sector increased 17% from 1999 to 2004—even with all the news of the dot-com difficulties.
    • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computing is the field with the greatest potential for growth through 2014.
  • Money Magazine and identified "software engineer" at the very top of their listings of the "Best Jobs in America." Further, number 7 on the listing was "computer/IT analysis". In describing the position of software engineer, wrote, "The profession's strong growth prospectives, average pay of $80,500, and potential for creativity put it at the top of the list."
  • "According to a January 2006 article on, salaries for computing professionals are rising extremely fast. Among the top-ten jobs with the fastest growing salaries, computing represents fully half the list". "Computing Degrees and Careers" by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

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