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Allen Calderwood (CS '15): From Ramhacks to Google

Allen Calderwood’s first job out of college was at Google. He says VCU Engineering prepared him for it — in class and out.

Calderwood, a 2015 alumnus of the VCU School of Engineering’s Computer Science Department, is VCU’s first graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science to snag a job at Google.

“Most of what preps you for the interview, you learn in the classroom,” said Calderwood of Google’s famously challenging real-time coding interview. “And most of the job stuff, you learn outside the classroom.”

While in school, Calderwood took every opportunity to show his creativity and sharpen his problem-solving skills. He interned with AMC Technology, a global leader in customer-relations management and contact center interactions. Calderwood was also active in VCU’s Association for Computing Machinery and participated in VCU’s annual RamHacks hackathon as well as various out-of-state programming events.

“RamHacks was a valuable experience. I made something with a team in a time crunch, and helped present our idea to the judges. I learned a lot — it was a good feeling,” he said.  

These opportunities challenged Calderwood to master skills he learned in class and equipped him for the team-based projects he works on today at Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. As a software engineer at Google, Calderwood is jumping in on large-scale distributed processing and test-driven development projects. Calderwood is a graduate of Google’s elite Engineering Residency program, which is specifically designed to transform recent college graduates into product industry leaders.

Calderwood advises current students to approach their own career paths with a firm understanding of what they have to offer that is different and valuable.  

“Study and prepare. Be as impressive as possible,” he said. “Then survey the field and see where you can stand out in the crowd.”