Computer Scientist Profiles

What careers are possible with a major in computer science?  Check out the examples below.
These are profiles of CS graduates from my alma mater who volunteered their experiences and advice.

-- Lisa Torrey, St. Lawrence University


Steven Gomez, Dartmouth '07
What's your job?
I'm a Software Engineer at M2S, Inc., though I'll be starting as a PhD student in computer science this fall at Brown University.

What does that mean?
As a software engineer, I spend about half my time developing new features for our products.  During the other half, I am refactoring and fixing bugs in our existing code.  In my last project, I implemented new virtual stent grafts for one of our products, Preview, which is used by physicians to plan surgical treatment for aortic aneurysms.
Steven Gomez
How does a typical workday go?
I spend a typical workday hacking at code, with some planning meetings sprinkled in.  As a medical software company, we spend a lot of time discussing quality and each developer works closely with the quality assurance engineers, who make sure we are compliant with FDA regulations.  It is a constant challenge to develop code in an agile way while keeping up with our regulatory obligations!

What do you like about your job?
We work on new technology.  If I find myself reinventing the wheel, I probably need to do more research or rethink our product design.  Our tools are used by doctors and medical professionals, so each piece of work is critical because it may affect a person's well-being.  I enjoy that responsibility and knowing that our code affects real people.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Ask questions and experiment with your ideas, even if you think they won't go anywhere - you may surprise yourself.  Never use what you don't know as an excuse for not learning something new.

Erik Hinterbichler, Dartmouth '06, U. Illinois '08
What's your job?
I'm a Software Engineer and User Interface Designer at Pattern Insight.

What does that mean?
I help design and build the user interfaces for our main products, Code Insight and Log Insight.  I also helped design and build the new website we just launched.
Erik Hinterbichler
What do you like about your job?
I get to build products that people use and enjoy and will hopefully make their lives easier.   I also love the relaxed California lifestyle.

What do you do outside of work?
Play cello in the Mission Chamber Orchestra, go weightlifting on the weekends.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Pay attention to the user interface of the products you design.  Most people don't and that's why so many applications are a pain to use.

Jean Bredeche, Dartmouth '03
What's your job?
I'm a Senior Software Engineer at Advent Software, which acquired a startup I had joined.

What does that mean?
We design and implement new features to delight our customers.  I also have a second responsibility as the lead frontend and user interface developer so I also do a lot of creative design work to make sure we are presenting clear, intuitive, and consistent metaphors in our user interface.  I also mentor junior developers and make sure that our frontend architecture is where we want it to be so that other developers' productivity can be maximized as they implement other features.
Jean Bredeche
How does a typical workday go?
When Tamale was a startup, we had some pretty long hours but it was some of the most exhilarating times of my professional career.  At times I was working 80-90 hour weeks for months on end.  As we're now part of a much bigger company, I work about 50 hours a week.  Maybe 2/3 of it is devoted to coding and design, with the rest mixed between mentoring developers, going over bug reports with our QA team, and planning new features with our product management team.

What do you like about your job?
I get to build things from scratch!  Seeing users actually use the software I helped build is a pretty great feeling.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Don't worry about learning specific languages, technologies, or buzzwords of the day.  Get a great theoretical foundation, and try to learn as much as you possibly can from reading other people's code, blog posts, sites like stackoverflow, etc.  When it comes time to learning a particular technology for a job, you'll have no problem picking it up if you have a solid foundation.

Adrian Hartline, Dartmouth '03
What's your job?
I'm a Senior Technical Consultant at Appian.

What does that mean?
While it depends on the project, basic tasks can involve writing a requirements document based on discussions with the client, project management, and of course coding the solution (usually in Java, with an oracle back-end and JSPs for the front-end).
Adrian Hartline
How does a typical workday go?
This also depends on the project, but for my most recent one I was on a large team in charge of maintaining and enhancing a web portal for the US Army (AKO - Army Knowledge Online).  I would basically work 9-6, working on whatever bugs or enhancements were assigned to me.  Within our team there is little red tape, so very little time is spent in meetings - if I have a question I could just head over and ask the appropriate person, or send them an email.  I like this as it allows me to focus on the actual work.

What do you like about your job?
I really enjoy my co-workers who are mostly young professionals, and very motivated and intellectually curious.  I also love the challenge of hunting down a bug, or getting a description of what the client wants and figuring out the best way to program the solution.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Take advantage of your non-CS classes too!  I draw on things I learned in my psychology and economics classes regularly for my day-to-day life.

Daniel Simola, Dartmouth '03, U. Illinois '08
What's your job?
I'm a graduate student in computational biology at the University of Pennsylvania.

What does that mean?
The lab I work in focuses on computational evolutionary biology of a variety of model organisms.  We do analysis on large scale data sets (thousands of bacterial genomes, dozens of yeast genomes, etc).  Most of our data sets are incredibly large so both memory and space are constraints in algorithm development.
Daniel Simola
How does a typical workday go?
I am very flexible in my lab.  When you are actually performing experiments timing and technique are everything.  Otherwise I am on the computer programming and doing analysis. Some techniques I have used includes culturing budding yeast, isolating their DNA and RNA and using various technologies to generate large data sets.  Once acquired the data must be processed and normalized.  This step is mostly computational, involving math, statistics, and programming.  Often there is image analysis involved as well.  Once this step is complete, as a biologist you need to analyze the information by characterizing patterns and deriving theories regarding the biological processes generating these patterns.

What do you do outside of work?
Cycling and bike maintenance, make bread and beer, photography.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Think big and think across fields; fields of technology move incredibly fast these days and computer science skills are desperately needed in every field of science.

Joshua Stabiner, Dartmouth '03 and '05
What's your job?
I'm an Advanced Security Center Manager at Ernst & Young.

What does that mean?
The ASC is part of EY's advisory group and we perform attack and penetration services for our clients.  A&P services provide a “real-life” test of a client’s exposures and assess the extent to which the organization is currently vulnerable to exploits that are realistic and probable.
Joshua Stabiner
How does a typical workday go?
I get to hack all day.  Normally, I play the role of an evil hacker trying to break something.  If, for instance, I am working on a web application for a bank, I might try to log in to a legitimate user's account without credentials and cause a transfer of funds to an unauthorized account.  During an intranet assessment I would take on the role of a malicious company employee who has limited access to the corporate infrastructure and I would attempt to expand my access and take over the entire Windows domain.  On a social engineering project I could conduct a physical security review and try to sneak into a highly secured area, such as a server-room.  This might involve duplicating RFID badges, picking locks or other sneaky tricks to bypass physical security measures.

What do you do outside of work?
I love to travel and eat.  Travel includes exploring different areas of my home (New York City) as well as seeing new places.  Most recently, I have been to Alaska, Egypt, Greece and Taiwan (one cool thing about the consultant's lifestyle is the accumulation of airline miles that you can use for personal travel).  My wife and I have taken our love of food and travel and started a blog where we write all about our various adventures.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
CS is a broad field and you won't realize that until you're neck-deep in the curriculum.  Not everything is about coding and software-development, although it can be if you like.  Make sure you identify what really makes you happy.  Do you try to use 10 different flavors of *nix at home?  Are you recompiling kernels all the time?  Do you write Perl/Ruby/Python scripts to make even the simplest tasks simpler?  Do you do cool things with video/photo-editing software?  Guess what?  There's a career out there that requires those skills and you can capitalize on your expertise.  Focus on what interests you the most and your CS studies will propel you.  Also, even though you might think you're set to have a career in computer graphics, focus on all that your department has to offer.  You'll be surprised when you're 5 years into your career and that concept you learned in your networking class comes up during a conference and really contributes to the project you're currently working on.

Yvette Nameth, Dartmouth '02
What's your job?
I'm a Software Test Engineer at Google.

What does that mean?
I write test plans and documentation for how to test AdWords products, design and implement test frameworks, implement test case automation, work on designing testable code with my team of Software Engineers, and work with Product Managers and Software Engineers on designing.
Yvette Nameth
How does a typical workday go?
9-10am get to work.  Before lunch: check email and get caught up, make sure I know my schedule, come up with what I want to accomplish, do any release testing that needs to be done during a release week or dig into a bad bug during a non release week to find root cause or get background information.  Noon: Google lunch followed by a game of pool with some of my teammates.  12:30-1pm back to work: write up test plans on new features that will launch in the upcoming 2-4 weeks, implement test cases for these same features, work on building out infrastructure for projects that are pre-release, attend meetings, design discussions, brainstorming sessions.  Mid-afternoon: break for a game of pool then back to work.  6:30pm: dinner.  post-dinner: send out any questions I might have for other people and make sure all email for the day is responded to, make sure I've gotten something accomplished from my checklist and annotate any bugs that may need further investigation or that interrupted my day's plans, then head home.

What do you like about your job?
I have an insane amount of freedom.  I choose what needs doing; I have my peers review it and give suggestions.  I then get to prioritize based on the project's needs, my interest level, company goals, project launch dates, etc.  No one tells me what to do and no one monitors my every move; there's a huge amount of trust with a lot of peer feedback loops.  I also work with fantastic and smart people.  And I'm integrated into a team composed of people with different specialities who all speak tech: Project/Product Managers/Specialists, Software Engineers, Test Engineers (like me), User Experience Researches, Customer Service Reps, Sales, UI Designers.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Get internships if you think you don't want to continue with further education and do research if you think you want your Master's or PhD.  The experience of each is invaluable.  For someone like me an internship really shows you how companies work and gives you practical applications of what you learn in school and teaches you more than your professors can explain in the confines of a classroom.

John Thomas, Gettysburg '02, Dartmouth '04 and '09
What's your job?
I'm a Senior Scientist at Crimson Hexagon, Inc.

What does that mean?
I'm responsible for all the research being done at Crimson Hexagon.  Since we are a data mining and text analytics company, there are a large number of open research problems that we have been working on including: individual document classification, sentiment prediction, and content extraction.
John Thomas
How does a typical workday go?
With the exception of a few meetings, I typically work on research problems all day.  Usually this entails finding or generating data that we can use for testing, developing a solid testing framework, rapidly prototyping different solutions and testing them, and reading recent papers to look for new ideas to solve our problems.  Some times the best solutions utilize existing technology while other times we develop our own algorithms.

What do you like about your job?
I love the challenging problems that I get to work on and the freedom I have while working on them.  I get to choose how to approach the problems and I get to stay up to date on the latest and greatest algorithms in machine learning and data mining.  I learn something new everyday.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
As my father always says, "find something that you love to do and find somebody willing to pay you to do it".

Soumendra Nanda, RAIT '01, Dartmouth '04 and '08
What's your job?
I'm a Senior Research Engineer in the Advanced Networking Division at BAE Systems AIT.

What does that mean?
I help my team research, design and implement software and hardware-based solutions for the next generation of mobile wireless networks.  I collaborate with team members and partners on designing and writing code, solving problems or fixing bugs; run simulations or network emulation experiments; participate in extensive field trials with real hardware; read conference and journal papers to stay up-to-date; write white papers and proposals to get external funding to do future research.
Soumendra Nanda
What do you like about your job?
I get to work with cutting-edge research prototypes and new technologies.  I also get to work with really smart people and learn from them.

What do you do outside of work?
I play basketball, tennis, table tennis and badminton and like to travel.  I lead a global team of volunteers for the RAIT Alumni Association (a non-profit org that supports 1700+ members).  I also edit and publish the RAIT Alumni Magazine that has a CS-worthy but ironic acronym...RAM :)

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
CS is a very broad field.  Some areas require more math, some need more creativity, and some areas need both!  Only a handful of people on this planet find all areas of CS to be equally easy.  Find the areas that you enjoy and try to excel in them, but do challenge yourself to work hard in areas that you don't enjoy or may initially struggle with.  Be proactive in improving your communication skills and look for opportunities to collaborate with others.  Volunteer to work on team projects.  Employers give a lot more weight to your communication skills than you may imagine.  These soft skills are important in all professions and career paths, not just in CS.

Mike Lewis, Dartmouth '00
What's your job?
I'm the founder of the sites Qloud and EVP of Products for BuzzMedia.

What does that mean?
I design products, raise money, manage engineers and product managers.
Mike Lewis
How does a typical workday go?
Get on the phone with Romanian developers from 7-8/9am, run on the beach, drive into work, work with product managers on the current products in development, lunch with team, build 3-6 month product roadmap, build slides of strategic direction, set schedule, meet with business development team to discuss possible/current deals.

What do you like about your job?
Building new experiences from scratch is creative and executing a plan is quite rewarding.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Learning the code and getting a deep understanding of how machines and software works is a great skill to have.  Even if you're not going to be an engineer - being able to view and understand the web and the industry around out can help you in almost any job and/or endeavor you have in the future.

Michael Pryor, Dartmouth '98
What's your job?
I'm a Cofounder of Fog Creek Software and Stackoverflow.

What does that mean?
Sometimes I code, but usually I'm doing all of the 'other' things so that our developers aren't distracted from making software.  That means finding office space, building it out, getting the caterer to bring lunch to work every day, writing paychecks, paying bills, talking to customers, answering support email, etc.  I used to write code all of the time, but now there's so many smarter people working here that it's best if I keep my fingers out of the repos.
Michael Pryor
How does a typical workday go?
Walk the two blocks from Wall St. to our office in downtown Manhattan.  Make a latte and look at the Statue of Liberty from our lunch room where we all eat lunch together at noon (for free!).  Walk past the giant aquarium and the all glass private offices for developers down to my office.  Answer some emails, pay some bills, look at stackoverflow.com for a bit, and then put on my headphones and attempt to crank out some code.

What do you like about your job?
Working with awesome people.  When Joel Spolsky and I started Fog Creek in 2000 it was just the two of us working on some dinky project management software.  10 years later, I can't believe what everyone working here has produced from that simple app.  We got really lucky in finding rockstars who were able to make something amazing.  Working with fellow alums helps too.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
My business partner wrote it better than I could: here

Scott Rankin, Dartmouth '98
What's your job?
I'm a Director of Architecture at Fidelity Investments.

What does that mean?
Working with my teammates on the architecture team to develop technology goals for our platform, reviewing individual project teams, production support when things go really wrong, hands-on development, completely redesigning and building our build system, working with Quality Assurance to make sure that they have the tools to adequately test our software, improving performance across our product suite.
Scott Rankin
How does a typical workday go?
I tend to a have a lot of meetings in the morning, since we have about 5,000 developers in India and we can usually only meet with them until 10-11 AM.  After that it's usually a mix of hands-on work for the projects that I'm actually doing, and meetings for the projects that I'm reviewing.  Every couple of months, when we have a release, hours get longer, culminating in a (typically) 36-48 hour marathon of code release and subsequent troubleshooting for the inevitable bugs that show up the next morning.  Day-to-day, however, 9 hours is pretty typical.

What do you like about your job?
I really like that my company values technology and sees it as a differentiator in the industry.  I also feel like my contributions are valued and that if I do something good, it's recognized as such.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
The single most valuable skill that has enhanced my career has nothing to do with software development - it is my ability to speak cogently with non-technical users and convert theirdesires into usable software that meets their needs.  I've seen a ton of developers come in to a meeting with a business user and overwhelm them with technical jargon and come out with no idea what that user needs.  The really good developers can talk the business user's language and understand what they need and then turn it into technology.

Martin Dengler, Dartmouth '97
What's your job?
I'm a Director of Front Office Equity Derivatives IT at KBC Financial Products.

What does that mean?
I do Python- and C#-based software engineering and lifecycle management.
Martin Dengler
How does a typical workday go?
Some permutation of (1) code (Python / maintenace via emacs on W32, Solaris, or Linux), (2) explain/diagnose deployed program behavior for traders that sit next to me, and (3) discuss incremental improvements with other software engineers.

What do you do outside of work?
Theater, visiting the English countryside, volunteering at OLPC / SugarLabs (F/LOSS education projects).

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
(1) Like what you do. (2) Always learn. (3) Know the big, hard problems. (4) Don't bother about sunk costs.

Jonathan Bredin, U. Pennsylvania '96, Dartmouth '01
What's your job?
I'm an Associate Professor at Colorado College.

What does that mean?
I teach undergraduates, study strategies for rational agents particpating in distributed resource allocation, and spend way too much time in faculty governance.
Jonathan Bredin
How does a typical workday go?
I show up at 8am.  Teach for 3 hours.  Have lunch.  Work with students in the afternoon or go to faculty meetings.  Go home around 5 or 6 to walk my dog and have dinner and work from home to read research papers, grade assignments, prep assignments or classwork.

What do you do outside of work?
Play music.  Bicycle.  Rock climb.  Travel.  Spend time with my family.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Learn to write.  Comment your code with summary descriptions using complete sentences.  Plan to spend at least half of your coding project time debugging and testing code.

Nathan Herring, Dartmouth '95
What's your job?
I'm a Software Design Engineer in Development at Microsoft.

What does that mean?
I design, extend and maintain code in the Common Language Runtime (the foundation of .NET), usually around the areas where the runtime attaches to the OS and/or its host.  This involves both feature work, bug fixing, code and design reviews and long term planning.  I'm also involved with driving some architectural improvements across the codebase, and assisting in source control integrations/branch planning.  Furthermore, I try, mostly in the Macintosh sphere, to drive incorporation of our technology (CoreCLR) into other Microsoft Mac products and to improve the general state of Mac development.
Nathan Herring
How does a typical workday go?
I arrive around 10:10am having biked/bussed to work.  I've usually perused my e-mail while on the bus on my iPhone, and know what fires need to be resolved, or external queries/code reviews need processing to unblock others.  I spend an hour coding, then a short lunch, and then most of the afternoon is coding and/or quick ad hoc meetings with coworkers for design input or code reviews.  Sometime between 5:40 and 6:20, I bike to the Connector (the Microsoft-funded shuttle), and ride it home.

What do you like about your job?
I like the time flexibility, which I used more when my child's daycare schedule didn't make me conform to a pretty standard day.  I like the location flexibility, as I can work at home periodically and reduce my commute times.  I appreciate working with very bright people; they're always teaching me something, and recently, it's less about the technical details (of which there is always more), but also about the ways to get things done -- how to get people to align with your proposals, how to schedule and communicate about scheduling to avoid unnecessary slips.  I like working on Mac OS X products at Microsoft.  I like that I don't have to leave the company to find a new niche that is interesting to work in.  I like a lot of the perquisites, e.g., extensive health care plan, food services, etc.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
If you're wanting to be a software design engineer, it pays to be able to understand the general ramifications of a design in terms of performance, reliability, modes of failure, and testability.  It's always good to be able to dive one more layer downwards (e.g., C# -> IL, or IL -> assembly) and understand the implications that a given layer imposes.  This is not really a matter of your capability, but more about whether that kind of holistic and potentially rigorous approach is desirable to you.  You needn't be an SDE to apply computer science techniques to analysis and information processing in a host of other fields -- learning another field and bridging the gap between it and technology is bound to give our society the biggest leaps in productivity in the next decades.

Eben Haber, Dartmouth '88, U. Wisconsin '95
What's your job?
I'm a Research Staff Member at IBM.

What does that mean?
User research into how people use computers, prototyping new tools to help them work better, writing academic papers and currently a book describing our findings.
Eben Haber
How does a typical workday go?
Every day is different, analyzing data, reading other people's papers, writing papers and book chapters, creating prototype tools.

What do you like about your job?
Being able to take a longer view on problems.  I worked in development for 7 years which was fun, but always hectic trying to get the next release out.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Think about grad school, but understand what it's about.  The skills you learn as an undergraduate are about creating things, and help you very well if you want to work in the industry and make cool stuff.  Grad school is about research, how to pose new problems, ask good questions, and go about rigorously answering them and writing up the results in academic papers.  Development can be short term, exciting, and fun.  Research can be deep, long term, but harder to impact real people.

John McGeachie, Dartmouth '88
What's your job?
I'm a Chief Technology Officer/VP Engineering at a startup called CoreStreet, Ltd..

What does that mean?
I do product training for customers, identify new developments of interest to the business, set priorities for product development, resolve issues, and manage people.
John McGeachie
How does a typical workday go?
In a startup environment there’s not a lot of 'typical' as the priority is to apply the entire range of your skillset in as many ways as you can constructively add value.  I would say the majority is with external facing activities, i.e.working with sales or other senior management on business development and sales opportunities, closely followed by issue resolution and prioritization.

What do you like about your job?
The variety of work, the challenges in learning new things, but mostly the quality of people that I work with.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Communication skills are what will ultimately take you the farthest, whether you go into management or not.  If you cannot communicate effectively with others about the problem you are trying to solve, you are an army of one.  If you can effectively engage other people you can multiply your worth to an organization.  Crisp analytical thinking communicated without coloration by ego should be a constant goal.

John C. Gannon, Dartmouth '87, Tuck School of Business '94
What's your job?
I'm a Vice President of Mainframe Storage Engineering and Mainframe Capacity and Performance at Fidelity Investments.

What does that mean?
I manage engineers who run/analyze/change/grow/optimize Fidelity's mainframe computing environments.  Like any financial services company, Fidelity has a large investment in mainframe computing; my groups make sure that we use that investment wisely.  Also, we must never see production problems or slowdowns.
John C. Gannon
What do you like about your job?
My workday never ends.  We must have a perfect mainframe computing environment at all times.  We start the day at 6:00 checking the status of the overnight batch work.  At 7:00 we review all problems from the past 24 hours.  After that we make adjustments for the opening of the stock market.  This is when a normal person might start his or her day.  Staff meetings, project reviews, crunch numbers, create presentations, sell projects, meet with vendors, review new engineering ideas, travel to conferences to give input on new technology designs.  Work continues on into the evening with any production problems that may have arisen during the day.  I am on-call all day every day so I expect to be awakened to work on problems a few nights and weekends per month.

What do you do outside of work?
Golf, run marathons, cook, garden, snowboard, hike, travel, raise our three kids.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Pay attention to skills outside of CS.  I meet many engineers who are horrible communicators.  They have not read anything, they cannot construct a logical argument (for funding of a project, for example).  Your technical genius is worthless if you can't share it with others - especially those who are paying you!  Don't be a platform bigot.  I'm the biggest web guy there is and here I am in the middle of mainframe computing.  The core skills transfer.  Finally, I have never had a technical problem in my career - all of my problems are process or people oriented.  Study people and groups and how they function.  Dress just a bit better than you have to.

David Kay, Dartmouth '86
What's your job?
I'm a Principal at DB Kay & Associates, a small consultancy.

What does that mean?
I work with technical support organizations to help them adopt knowledge management, implement self-service initiatives, and take advantage of collaborative and social software.  My focus is on business processes and organizational change, but I also develop technology requirements, advise customers with technology selection, and help them adjust both their technology and processes to work better together.
David Kay
How does a typical workday go?
One of my favorite things is that there isn't a typical workday!  I spend probably 20% of my time on-site with clients, either facilitating workshops, assessing their current work, or providing input to their strategy.  I do a fair amount of writing and speaking at web seminars or conferences, both for revenue and to let people know what I do.  In particular, I co-wrote Collective Wisdom: Transforming Support with Knowledge in 2006.  The next book is probably on how to use Web 2.0 in technical support, but examples outside of open source aren't common enough yet.

What do you like about your job?
I love the fact that a small amount of my time can really help my customers -- I've focused on this one little area, so I'm pretty confident I can provide them with lessons learned much faster than they can learn them themselves.  I've also enjoyed the range of customers I've been able to work with.  It's exciting getting an inside view of what these tech leaders are doing.  I also really enjoy having technology be part of my job, but not the entirety of my job.  With my CS background and software development experience, I get very quick credibility with my customers, and I can give informed advice about trade-offs for different information retrieval and knowledge representation approaches in the real world.  On the other hand, the primary focus of my job is people, and what they do.  Over time, I've found that to be more interesting and fulfilling than software development.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Balance the technology with the liberal arts.  Even if you devoted 100% of your time on computer science classes, you'd still have a tremendous amount to learn.  And, because technology keeps evolving, lifelong learning isn't really an option: it's just how things are.  On the other hand, learning how to read, write, persuade, develop a benefits statement, complete a return on investment analysis -- ALL of this is essential for being a leader at work, even in supposedly strictly technical roles.  So, get enough technology background to be useful; intern, so you can learn how to learn and participate in an office environment; and make sure to cover English lit, economics, and wherever else your passions and interests lead.

David Kovar, Dartmouth '86
What's your job?
I'm a computer forensics analyst at NetCerto, Inc. (my own consulting firm, which started as a pure IT consulting firm and now does computer security and computer forensics consulting.)

What does that mean?
I collect digital evidence, analyze digital evidence using a wide variety of tools, and assist with electronic discovery requests.
David Kovar
How does a typical workday go?
There really isn't a typical day.  If I've got an investigation going, I'm generally analyzing systems, determining what they were used for, researching new approaches for problems I'm seeing, and documenting everything.  If there isn't an active case, I'm doing research - reading up on state of the art - and doing IT stuff - rebuilding environments, setting up new systems, and the like.

What do you do outside of work?
Search and rescue, flying, horseback riding, reading, travel.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Make the most of the time you have now for research and exploration as it gets harder to find when you're working.  Be prepared to take a non- traditional job to move towards the one you want - getting your foot in the door and then moving within the company is often an option.  Be well rounded - have interests and classes other than CS.  In particular, communication skills, soft skills, are very useful.

David Pablo Cohn, Dartmouth '85, U. Washington '92
What's your job?
I'm a Senior Research Scientist at Google.

What does that mean?
I mostly work on Machine Learning.  In the past few years, I've designed and help build spam classifiers, clustering and ranking systems for web search and news.  I created (and sometimes teach) internal courses to teach incoming Googlers.  These days, I'm tech lead (officially "Fearless Leader") for Google Labs, which means I spend a lot of time talking to people about launch policy, and helping connect engineers with other engineers.
David Pablo Cohn
How does a typical workday go?
Bike into the office at 8:15, eat breakfast in office cafe while either clearing out email queue or talking with team members.  Finish email queue, possibly doing a few code reviews for my team's engineers.  Prep for a weekly meeting, making sure I've got my ToDo's done, and anything I want to discuss is on the agenda.  Run the meeting.  Meet with a couple of teams that need consulting help, either on machine learning or labs.  Eat lunch.  Hang out on lawn and talk to a few random engineers about the Labs initiative.  Back to my desk for a couple of hours of coding, then another meeting.  Figure out whether today's a yoga day, a running day, or a sitting meditation day.  Do it.  Attend a talk by some visiting scientist or author.  Back to desk to finish up email, then home on my bike at 5:30.

What do you like about your job?
Huge flexibility.  Amazing co-workers - absolutely brilliant and committed to using technology to make the world a better place.  The feeling that I'm trusted to do what I think is best, and have the opportunity to affect the lives of millions of people for the better every day.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Don't try to graduate early!  Really, it sounds like a good idea, but even if you blow through your coursework and are able to graduate early, take that last quarter/year to explore courses and activities you never had time for.  It will change your life.  I mean it.  (I did, many of my friends didn't).

Larry Kaplan, Dartmouth '84, NYU '88
What's your job?
I'm a Senior Principal Engineer and Software Systems Architect at Cray Inc.

What does that mean?
I design software to make large systems (10Ks of nodes) usable by both programmers and administrators.  The software includes everything for the low level BIOS and monitoring software through the operating system kernel and other services up to the libraries and programming environment software.
Larry Kaplan
How does a typical workday go?
I am able to help design the world's largest and fastest computers (Jaguar at ORNL is currently #2 in the world). About half of my typical day is taken up by various meetings, both internal to discuss and review various software and hardware designs, and external to review and respond to customer requirements.  I also participate in some external research programs including some conferences, symposia, and workshops.  The other half is usually spent reviewing and writing documents and doing some amount of code review.

What do you do outside of work?
Water and snow skiing, mountain biking, ultimate frisbee.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Learn to write!  Good writing skills are important even for an engineer or computer science specialist.

Martha Pollack, Dartmouth '79, U. Pennsylvania '86
What's your job?
I'm Dean of the School of Information and Professor of Information and of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Michigan.

What does that mean?
As Dean, I have overall responsibility for the school: everything from making budgetary decisions, to having the final word on faculty hiring, to providing intellectual leadership and guidance.  I also still do a little bit of research, and supervise 3 or 4 doctoral students.  Last semester, I even taught a small seminar.
Martha Pollack
How does a typical workday go?
Every day is different.  Some days I am on the road, meeting with alumni who might make contributions to the school or visiting corporations and industries that hire our graduates.  Other days, I work with my financial manager to do budget projections, or with my human-resources manager to solve a staffing problem.  Very frequently I meet with individual faculty-particularly junior faculty- to discuss their research ideas and provide them with feedback and guidance.  I brainstorm with my associate deans about activities we should expand into, for instance, executive education, or ones we should pull back from, and I oversee the implementation of the plans we develop.  I am involved on a regular basis with the deans of the other schools and colleges on campus, to develop shared policies.  I am active in national professional roles, for example, serving as President-Elect of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and those sorts of activities take time as well.

What do you do outside of work?
Spending time with my family is my major passion: my husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this summer, and we have two nearly-grown children (21 and 16).  In addition, I'm an avid reader and participate in a book club with close friends, I like to play bridge, and I enjoy traveling.  Every spring I say I'm going to take up gardening, but, alas, I seem to lose my passion for it as soon as the annuals are planted.

Any advice for a CS undergrad?
Think broadly and take courses from a variety of disciplines.  Computer science is possibly the most interdisciplinary field there is.