This article is the first installment in a series. Each installment focuses on different academic areas and career paths. This week, we explore computer science and economics.
When the Class of 2017 graduates in May, its members will spread across the United States and the world, pursuing opportunities in fields ranging from international development to software engineering. Some will attend graduate or professional school, while others will travel, pursue scholarships — or figure it all out along the way.
Ruthie Berman ’17 credits her four years at Macalester with shaping her interests and ultimately, her career path, which will take her to a position with the online hospitality service Airbnb following graduation. “When I came to Mac, I didn’t know what computer science was, and I chose to take a computer science FYC somewhat by accident. I ended up loving programming, and quickly changed my plans to include a computer science major,” she recalled. “I also think that a major part of my success in the field of computer science has to do with the amazing professors in the MSCS department who have been incredible advisors and mentors.”
Berman’s past work experience includes a research position at Michigan State University and an internship as a software engineer at Pinterest. Berman enjoyed her experience at Pinterest and was offered a full-time position that she intended to take, but she also sent out a few applications to other companies, including Airbnb. After a rigorous application process that involved an informational interview, two technical interviews and an onsite interview at the Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco, Berman was offered a position as a software engineer. “Airbnb has a lot of exciting initiatives that I would love to be a part of, including a new team that’s tackling implicit bias on the site,” she said. “I’m both nervous and excited to try something new.”
Noah Nieting ’17 will also try something new when he leaves Minnesota far behind and heads to the West African country of Benin, where he will serve with the Peace Corps. An economics major with concentrations in African studies and international development, Nieting applied to the Peace Corps “knowing that it’s a life-changing experience that can hopefully contribute to poverty alleviation.” Past internships at the U.S. House of Representatives, the Department of Commerce and local nonprofit organizations all shaped his deep interest in civil service and nonprofit work: “My internships showed me how people are making a difference in local and distant communities, be it through politics, markets, or the global reach of benevolent institutions.” Nieting will serve as a food security extension agent, which he described as “jargon for ‘I’ll work with farmers, especially women, and their organizations to increase yields and sustainability on the farm and improve profitability after harvest.” His role will involve promoting efficient agricultural practices, training students and women on entrepreneurship and food security, and promoting community gardens, among many other tasks. He will serve for two years, after which he hopes to attend graduate school for a degree in public policy, development or economics.
Ibrahima Dieye ’17 will pursue economic consulting at Analysis Group in Boston. An applied math and economics major, Dieye explained that Macalester has allowed him to explore multiple career options, from teaching to academia: he served variously as a Model United Nations trainer for high school students, a summer instructor at Explo and a research analyst at Columbia Business School. “In the fall of my senior year, as I was looking for jobs, I focused specifically on positions that would help me strengthen my research and analytical skills for graduate school. That’s how I ended up with economic consulting and Analysis Group,” Dieye said. He hopes to eventually pursue a career in academia, but for now, he is excited to settle down in Boston. “It’s their biggest office, meaning they handle a wide variety of cases,” he noted. “I communicated my interest in working on healthcare related projects, but I’m open to exploring other areas.”
Margaret Abeles ’17 will also pursue a career related to economics, but her path has lead to a position as a consumer investment banking analyst at Piper Jaffray. Like Berman and Dieye, Abeles felt that Macalester played a prominent role in shaping her career interests: “I give full credit to my experiences and mentorships at Macalester as what gave me the confidence to pursue a career in finance. Before college I had no idea what I wanted to do, nor did I know what investment banking was, and I’m sure I would have chosen a very different path had I gone to another school,” she said. Abeles was interested in pursuing investment banking by her junior year, and knew that an internship would be critical for breaking into the field. She was familiar with Piper Jaffray through the Macalester alumni network and underwent a rigorous interview process that culminated with a position at the company this past summer. She enjoyed her experience from her first day onsite, remembering, “Every single person I met was excited to sit in the room with me, loved their job and was passionate that Piper is an amazing place to work.”
She was offered a full-time position just a couple days after her internship ended, and come graduation, she will return to Piper Jaffray for a position that involves working with firms to help them sell their business, buy another company, raise debt or go public. She admitted that she is nervous about investment banking’s notoriously long work days: “We can expect to work 80-100 hours a week, on average.” Nonetheless, her excitement for the position outweighs her fears: “I’m particularly excited to work so closely with company management teams. I can’t wait to learn from such interesting, experienced and successful people.”
Ned Read ’17 will be surrounded by successful people when he begins working as a software developer for Google. He pointed to Macalester’s role in giving him the self-confidence to pursue a role at such a well-known and successful company: “As a first-year, it was hard for me to imagine being successful at a large influential company. All of my professors, especially my adviser [and computer science professor] Shilad Sen, have had immense faith in myself and my peers. They never doubted that I or anyone else would find an internship or a job after college.” Like Berman, Read underwent a long application process complete with technical interviews over the phone and eventually at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. Read is excited to begin working at Google, explaining, “I think Google is known for creating some of the most consistently well-developed and innovative products. For this reason, I figured working on projects there would be more rewarding than at other companies. They also have a really cool campus with free food.”
Although the seniors featured in this article are by no means a fully representative survey of the Class of 2017, they nonetheless represent a wide variety of career paths, interests and majors. The common theme that emerges from their stories is excitement for their futures and gratitude for their experiences at Macalester. As Abeles concluded, “I feel so lucky to have spent four amazing years among such passionate and intelligent peers, professors, staff and administrators. I’m truly sad to leave, but am humbled to have been able to be a part of this incredible institution.”