By Rebecca E. Jones
Graduation is months away, but computer science seniors DongChen “Jay” Guan, Stuart Geipel, Quark Wei, as well as master’s student Chase Greco (B.S.’17), already have job offers from top tech companies.
“Our computer science students are very actively recruited by companies from across the United States,” said Anita Taylor, director of VCU Engineering Career Services. “These students are good at creating opportunities to expand their skills sets through engineering organizations, classroom and self-directed learning — and lots of informational interviews with CS professionals.”
Greco will join real estate analytics giant CoStar Group, the leading provider of commercial real estate information and online marketplaces. CoStar chose Richmond as its headquarters for operations and global research in 2016. Greco initially connected with the company at that time, through VCU’s Capstone Design Expo. As organizer of VCU’s RamHacks, Greco crossed paths with CoStar again. “I got my job offer this past November after meeting with CoStar’s senior VP of product development at RamHacks,” Greco said. As a software engineer, Greco will spearhead a new machine learning initiative within the company. “My graduate studies gave me the foundation in machine learning to qualify me for such a position,” he said.
Guan is headed to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where he will be a software engineer in the company’s Windows and Devices group. He applied for the software engineer position online — then delivered his resume in person at the Microsoft table at the 2017 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) annual conference in Kansas City, which he attended with support from the Department of Computer Science. Guan said VCU’s computer science classes and hackathons allowed him to build an advanced skill set, while the school’s career development events helped with job searches and interviews. He also credits the help he received to participate in a national conference and urges the school to continue “encouraging motivated students to walk out of their comfort zone.”
Geipel and Wei will also relocate to Washington for jobs in Facebook and Amazon’s Seattle offices, respectively.
Facebook reached out to Geipel while he was interning with Google last summer. He said the school’s Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) and Ram Development (RAMDev) chapters prepared him for Facebook’s notoriously challenging tech interviews. “The ACM challenges were a lot like the Facebook interview questions,” he said, adding that regular debriefs with organization adviser Thang Dinh, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science, were “super valuable.” What he got inside the classroom was equally important. “You definitely have to learn the academic side of CS,” he said. “Topics like algorithmic complexity may seem like something on paper only, but in big companies that are trying to scale, it’s crucial.”
Wei interned last summer with Amazon’s supply operations team, where he created data visualization tools for capacity tracking and designed a service to process large data drops. He will return this summer as a full-time software engineer. Like Guan and Geipel, Wei took every opportunity to hone his skills at VCU — in and out of the classroom. Engineering Career Services helped him land internships with multiple companies including Capital One and UPS Freight, giving him a portfolio that includes novel software solutions for data security, productivity tracking and business insights. “I think that in the field of computer science, really in any field, if you want to excel you can't leave all your learning in the classroom,” he said.