High-tech companies connect with students

Google and Microsoft recruiters often go unnoticed on a campus better known for its strong pool of investment banking and consulting connections, but lately, these tech companies are adding more and more Yalies to their respective payrolls.

Zhong Shao, the director of undergraduate studies for Computer Science, said the range of post-graduation plans for students in the major runs the gamut from graduate school to Wall Street. But he said many students in the department are also heavily recruited by software and Internet-based companies.

“A lot of companies send job recruiting advertisements to the mailing list here,” he said. “Microsoft is pretty intensive and sends a team, and Google does as well.”

Matthew Kennedy, the Microsoft college staffing consultant for the University, said his company recruits heavily at Yale because Microsoft is looking for students with bright and innovative ideas that can contribute to software design.

“Yale doesn’t have the reputation of being a highly technical school, but everyone who works with Yale and at Yale knows how smart the student body is,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for — bright individuals who will help us develop great software.”

Kennedy said that although most of the company’s hires are computer science majors, Microsoft has historically also hired students from other majors to work in its business division. This year, though, the company has begun hiring students in a variety of other majors for program manager positions, in which hires develop features to be integrated into the software. This year’s recruits include a cognitive science major, a political science major and an English major who is now in his first year at the Yale School of Management. Microsoft’s total number of hires at Yale jumped from one to nine from 2005 to 2006, and Kennedy said he expects the total will reach 10 or 11 before the academic year ends.

Jason Hsueh ’05 said that if his experience with the job search process last year was any indication, companies like Microsoft and Google are actively pursuing young programmers. Hsueh, who double majored in computer science and applied physics while at Yale and now works as a Google software engineer, said it is clear that for many of these companies, Yale is a primary recruiting target.

“We have a fantastic computer science program, and because of the explosion of Google in the last couple of years, they want to expand very quickly,” he said. “Right now, they’re hiring at a rate of about 10 people per day.”

Many students receive job offers from big-name technology companies based on prior internships with the firms. Roman Kuc, a professor of engineering and applied sciences and the director of educational affairs for Engineering, said students in his department typically go into one of five areas after graduation: graduate school in engineering, the high-tech industry, the banking industry, consulting and entrepreneurship. He said employers in the high-tech industries have included Sandia, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, HP, Harley-Davidson, Procter and Gamble, United Technologies and Olin.

“The usual career path is an internship during the summer after the junior year, giving the company and student a chance to get to know one another,” he said. “A job offer usually follows that occasionally includes graduate study.”

Kennedy agreed, saying that four of the nine Yalies hired by Microsoft so far this year had previously been summer interns.

Still, many Yale students pass up the computer industry for other employment options. Alex Hetherington ’06, a computer science and economics double major, said he interned as a software engineer for Google last summer but decided to take a job at the Yale Investments Office next year instead.

“I loved the job and Google, but decided I wanted to explore my interest in finance and investing before committing to any particular industry,” he said.

Hetherington is a former staff reporter for the News.

Yaron Guez ’06, who is also a computer science major, said he does not plan on entering the high-tech field either and is instead opting for entrepreneurship. He is currently applying and interviewing with marketing firms in New York City and said that, down the road, business school could be a possibility.

“I’m planning on starting my own company at some point, so right now I’m looking for some business experience for about a year or two to save money before I go traveling,” Guez said. “After that I’ll most likely start my own business with a friend outside of the major.”

In spite of interest from employers, Shao said the number of computer science majors at Yale has decreased over the past several years. After the late 1990s dot-com bubble burst when many computer professionals began losing jobs, he said, interest in the field declined substantially. But Shao said he and his colleagues are trying to re-motivate students to pursue the major.

“The fact the number of computer science majors is decreasing is not just a Yale phenomenon; it’s happening nationally,” he said. “[But] all my colleagues still believe there is a huge job market available, so we are recruiting more students to work in computer sciences.”

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