May 19, 2024


Built General Tough

13 new computer science grads from the Class of 2021 reveal the top priorities they’re looking for in their first tech jobs

Class of 2021 computer science majors graduated at a strange time.

That means that this fleet of fresh faces has to weigh their preferences for either remote work or an office environment, including whether they’re willing to relocate to a new city during the on-going pandemic.

To help businesses better understand what these new job seekers are looking for, Insider talked to 13 new computer science graduates to figure out which opportunities are most appealing to them and what factors they’re weighing as they make their decisions.

Farzana Haque, computer engineering graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Farzana Haque graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in computer engineering.

Next step: Haque applied for jobs in hardware design and verification at companies like Nvidia, Samsung, Qualcomm, Apple, IBM and Microsoft.

She ultimately accepted a position at semi-conductor firm Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) as a silicon design engineering working on GPU architecture, where she’ll be working remotely until 2022.

Priorities: Haque said it was important to her that her job to be flexible with her schedule, have an impactful product, allow for personal technical growth, induct her into a supportive team, and offer a competitive salary.

“I think it’s important to find a job that’s looking to invest in you with proper training, on-boarding and guidance,” Haque said.

Isabella Teng is a computer science graduate from Yale University. In this picture she is wearing an orange turtleneck and standing in front of a crowd, smiling.
Isabella Teng is a computer science graduate from Yale University.

Isabella Teng graduated from Yale University with a degree in computer science.

Next step: After applying for over 60 jobs at large technology firms such as Google, Lyft, Uber, Reddit, and Twitter, Teng accepted a position at financial software firm Intuit as a rotational product manager. 

She’ll have a hybrid schedule, working in its Mountain View office part-time with flexibility to be remote, too. 

Priorities: Teng was primarily looking for product manager roles, which are rare to land as a new grad. What was most important to her was finding mentorship within a company, working on an interesting product, and locating a culture that values diversity.

Teng said she wants to avoid companies like Coinbase which have come under fire for diversity issues. Lastly, she was primarily interested in jobs in San Francisco and New York.

“I appreciate the flexibility of working remote for commuting purposes and for working from a different location,” Tend said. “However, as a new grad I see the benefit of seeing people in-person for networking and career advancement purposes, since we don’t have much experience under our belt.”

Data science graduate from UC Berkeley, Katrina Priya. In this picture she is in front of a building wearing her graduation stoll.
Katrina Priya, a data science graduate from UC Berkeley.

Katrina Priya graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in data science.

Next step: Priya will be a remote UX Design intern at no-code startup Unqork for the summer and plans on looking for full-time positions in the fall.

She applied to hundreds of companies like Apple, Warner Bros, and ACLU that offer roles in UI/UX design and data science.

Priorities: Priya feels she needs a break from work and school because of the “fatigue that came from a virtual year” and plans to take a few months off before working full time so she can relax and travel. Her top priority is working in a role that feels impactful.  

“I want to do work that’s significant and meaningful,” Priya said. “I also definitely value a welcoming, collaborative environment where I’m not afraid to ask questions and can just be myself.”

Sam Perlmutter, a computer science graduate from UNC Charlotte. He has curly hair, glasses, and facial hair, he's sitting in front of a lake wearing a bright yellow shirt.
Sam Perlmutter, a computer science graduate from UNC Charlotte.

Sam Perlmutter graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in computer science and a concentration in AI & robotics.

Next step: Perlmutter plans to continue his studies through a CS master’s degree from UNC Charlotte. For the summer, he’ll work at banking firm Wells Fargo through a remote software engineering internship.

Perlmutter also applied to companies like Apple, GitHub, and Twitter.

Priorities: He values finding a job that offers good pay and benefits where he can work on something interesting with engaging people.

Google used to be his dream job, but he said he’s become apprehensive about the culture after the high-profile firing of ethical AI expert Timnit Gebru.

Similarly, he said he wouldn’t work at Facebook because of its role in the Capitol riots or Amazon, because of the firm’s stance on worker unions.

He also said he values companies that care about multiple aspects of a person’s skillset:

“I actually learned a lot from my job search last year about the companies I was applying to based on their interview process,” Perlmutter said. “The ones I liked the most had several rounds of behavioral interviews which made me feel like they actually cared about who I am instead of just how close to a computer my brain is.”

Fatima Dantsoho
Fatima Dantsoho, computer engineering graduate from Boston University

Fatima Dantsoho graduated with a degree in computer engineering from Boston University.

What’s next: Dantsoho will be doing a firmware engineering internship at Texas Instruments this summer before starting a master’s program in computer engineering at Columbia University in the fall.

She started off as an electrical engineering major before discovering her interest in computer architecture and hardware security, so she wants to take more classes on that in her masters program.

Priorities: Dantsoho says she ultimately wants to end up in a role she’s passionate about in a welcoming environment where she can ask people questions.

For her internship, she was specifically looking for firms with programs to help new hires find mentors to guide them, since her internship will be remote. It’s also important to her that a company value community service and diversity:

“The company doesn’t just post or speak about diversity in their companies and speak on racial issues, but also hires from a diverse pool of people,” Dantsoho told Insider. “Seeing people that you look like in the office does help in terms of integrating into the new space.”

Arpita Abrol, a computer science graduate from Stony Brook University. She is sitting in a green field of grass with trees behind her, she has long black hair and she's wearing a blue superman shirt. She is also wearing glasses.
Arpita Abrol, a computer science graduate from Stony Brook University.

Arpita Abrol graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in computer science.

Next step: Abrol started as a remote associate software engineer at Disney Streaming, the part of the company that works on its streaming entertainment, two months ago. 

She said the job search was rough over the summer because many companies seemed to have scaled down hiring for new graduate roles and estimates that she applied to “well over 40 companies” including Microsoft, MongoDB, and Bloomberg. 

Priorities: She wants to find a company that has a strong mentorship program, supports hybrid work, and allows her to work on something technologically interesting. It’s also important to her that a firm offer generous time off, a solid 401k matching program, and a tuition subsidy in case she wants to get a Master’s degree.

“I wouldn’t work for any company that does not align with my beliefs or that has a reputation of micro-management,” Arbol said. “One perk of software engineering is that my skills are transferable and I can afford to be a bit more picky in finding a company that aligns with my values. I want to like the company I work for.”

Raida Karim
Raida Karim, a computer science graduate of the University of Washington

Raida Karim graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in computer science.

Next step: Karim is applying to the University of Washington’s masters program in computer science and ultimately hopes to complete a PhD. This summer, she’s working in a remote fellowship with the National Security Innovation Network, where she’ll be developing projects in remote sensing, terrain analysis, and navigation. 

Priorities: Karim hopes to gain skills in conducting independent research and writing for research publications. She initially thought she would want to work as a software engineer at a major tech company but realized over the past few years that she wants to devote her life to solving “global challenges.”

“In the future, I want to use this knowledge and experience to collaborate in building technologies to solve other problems like climate change, alleviating poverty, food deprivation in third world countries, women empowerment, education problems, and crimes,” Karim said. “There are all of these challenges where I will not have a lot of freedom if I go to a company and work with high compensation.”

“Being a researcher gives me the opportunity and skills to network with other people and work independently to tackle some of these challenges,” Karim added. “I want to use my life and existence and time to do this work, which is pretty fulfilling.”

Liz Howden
Liz Howden, a computer science graduate of the University of Michigan

Liz Howden graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in computer science.

Next step: Howden is doing a fully-remote software engineering internship this summer. 

Priorities: Howden said that she feels strongly about working at a company that aligns with her values.

“For example, I do not have any desire to work for a company that doesn’t treat all its employees to these same standards or with respect,” Howden told Insider. 

Howden focused on company culture, personal development opportunities, and working on customer-facing projects in her search. Her past internships have been remote and having an office was not a priority for her, but she does care about work-life balance.

“I’ve had friends that worked at companies where they were working more than 40 hours a week as an intern,” Howden said. “I do love to code but I do need a break. Also, as I learned what I like in computer science, I’m kind of looking for a company that meets my interest in what I want to do. I realize that I want to do something that customers actually interact with.”

Miles Olson
Miles Olson is a computer science graduate from Rice University.

Miles Olson graduated with a degree in computer science from Rice University.

What’s next: Olson will be starting a job at Facebook this August at its New York office. 

Priorities: Olson previously interned at Facebook and he received a full-time offer back. He was looking for a “more traditional job in an office environment” where he can hang out with other people and make connections. 

“That was something that was important to me,” Olson told Insider. “Doing remote work over the summer, while I enjoyed my team, it was pretty tough to do remote work. I was definitely only applying to places that are full-time in-person.”

Olson also wanted to find a job in New York because he hadn’t spent much time there before. 

“I grew up in the Bay Area and had such a great experience moving to Houston for undergrad,” Olson said. “I was excited to pick a new spot and see what it was like there.”

Sabrina Seibel
Sabrina Seibel, a computer science graduate of Georgia Tech

Sabrina Seibel graduated from the George Institute of Technology with a degree in computer science.

Next step: Seibel is joining Google as a software engineering intern in New York City.

Priorities: Seibel says she wants to work somewhere where she feels comfortable, valued, and challenged and considered location, compensation, and perks outside of compensation in making her decision.

Since she’s born and raised in Atlanta, Seibel wanted to stay on the East Coast, which Google allows her to do. She plans on going into the office, although Google also has the option of remote work.

“Being young and single and not having any reasons to go home, [being remote is] not as important to me,” Seibel told Insider. “I know some of my friends reflect the same thinking.”

Jacob McCullough
Jacob McCullough, a computer science graduate of the University of New Mexico

Jacob McCullough graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in computer science.

What’s next: McCullough plans to pursue a Masters degree at the University of New Mexico, and in the long term, he plans to pursue a PhD. This summer, he is doing an internship at an Albuquerque-based company called Transparent Sky, where he’ll work on plane and drone camera and mapping technology.

Priorities: It’s important to McCullough to feel like he’s doing something meaningful. In addition, it’s important for him to be at a company where people enjoy themselves at work. For example, when he previously, interned at NASA, everyone seemed to love their job.

“I want to do something that pushes the boundaries of technology forward or helps people in a meaningful way,” McCullough told Insider.

Satya Nadella Microsoft
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella may be on a “the M&A warpath” analysts say. Insider asked analysts which companies and startups might be next.

Ananya Cleetus graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in computer science.

Next step: Cleetus will work at Microsoft starting in August and she plans to relocate to the Seattle area, where Microsoft is based. 

Priorities: Cleetus said she looked for flexibility in the work environment and work schedule and that location was also important: She wanted to work on the West Coast.

“I’m involved in a lot of mental health programs at my university. Especially in the pandemic, it’s even more important to have mental health days,” Cleetus said. “To me it was important to find a company that was flexible in prioritizing your well-being.”

She had previously interned at Microsoft, so she felt the culture fit her priorities. She had found a previous virtual internship challenging, so she wants to work in the office at least part of the time to get to know her team.

“I had such a wonderful experience at Microsoft that it kept me coming back,” Cleetus said. “I found my work fulfilling, enjoyed the teams I worked with and the work life balance. They care about diversity, and they care about accessibility. It was such a wonderful experience. That’s why I kept coming back and decided to go there full time as well.”

Sharmila Roy
Sharmila Roy, a computer science graduate of the University of Washington

Sharmila Roy graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in computer science.

What’s next: Roy plans to work full-time at a multinational technology company. 

Priorities: Roy wanted to work somewhere where she could have an impact on people. She’s not sure if she’ll be working remotely yet since the situation is constantly evolving and doesn’t have a strong preference yet between remote or in-office work. 

“I wanted an environment where I could be around passionate people, and we could all come together in a common goal of using technology to help others,” Roy told Insider.