Apr 16 2017

31 new grads, 31 career choices

In the past few months, I’ve been interviewing a lot of recent graduates about where they are heading as they graduate, and how they made their decisions.

I’ve summarized what each of them said below and I anonymized both the graduate and the companies/institutions involved, as well as removed information that would make it too easy to guess. This blog post is not about company X winning over company Y, but how about different priorities in life lead to different decisions. But let’s just say there’s a few finance firms, startups, all flavors of tech companies and more! Most of the people are from Waterloo, but not all!



The company I just interned at is great, and I have come across no reason to believe things are significantly better elsewhere. Why bother interviewing anywhere else? — [said by many different people]


I enjoy interactions with people and I am genuinely interested in management. The company I interned at was great for individual contributors, but had few management opportunities. As such, I applied to and ultimately chose [fast growing company] that can grow under me.


Between the two companies I interned at where I had the best experiences, I picked the first one. Sure, the overall compensation package was lower. But I like the product that they are building better, and I liked the people more, they are more social.


I really liked [company I was working] at and believed in its mission, but the day to day work wasn’t challenging enough. So I quit and joined this promising startup which has really interesting technical challenges.


I’m very interested in this particular industry. I’m interested in the problems that they have to solve, and the mentality of the people who work in it — they seem more ‘real’. I’ve looked around at other companies within this industry, but none had as good of a culture as [awesome company].


Although I’m ready to graduate now, and have good offers lined up from previous internships, I don’t have a clear sense of what I want to do yet. I will do full-time research with a professor for a while, to see if I like research enough to go to grad school.


Of all the companies I’ve interned at, I like the people in this one the most. I compared attributes I thought I’d care about: money, location, etc. Then I thought about my time at those companies, what I’ve experienced. I realized I really want to minimize the things I hate. And what do I hate the most? Having to approach people and ask for help when they seem too distant, which makes the coding experience annoying. So I chose the company with the most approachable people.


The place I interned at was a satellite office that was kind of boring and the people were somewhat abrasive, which I didn’t like. When I interviewed around, I was invited to [fun company] that had an office where everyone seemed so chill, happy, and welcoming. I went for it.


I’ve been wanting to do machine learning for a while, I’ve always been keeping an eye on it. My first five internships were at more product-type companies. I finally got to do machine learning on the last one. That makes me want to go back to it.


I’m returning to the company I interned at. I really liked the domain of the job (distributed systems, etc) and the people I worked with are legitimately some of the best people (not just coworkers) I’ve come across to know, so I was trying to optimize for learning/growth and a great culture. I did interview elsewhere for a while, and many had offers that were higher. However, I came to realize that other offers weren’t necessarily aligned with my goals so I stopped interviewing.


I made all my decisions in life so far to optimize for career and success, like my older sister. It hasn’t made her happy. I don’t want to make the same mistake. So I decided to choose [big name common company]. During the interview, I felt it had a more relaxing lifestyle and less constant pressure to perform, in an area with great weather, while still having good learning opportunities.


I joined [startup] because I like the team and the people there very much. And there’s so much more things for me to learn!


I considered [large tech company], [medium-size company], [energy startup], and some more. I chose the medium-size company. They had the best pay and had quite interesting work. Not as interesting as the startup, for which my skillset was an incredibly good fit, but their recruiting was too slow.


I decided to go to grad school after 4 co-op terms as I was beginning to think that being a software engineer can be quite boring. The problems you solve aren’t interesting most of the time. I liked the social environment of being in school and how easily you can meet other young and interesting people studying different things. I chose this particular school after talking to all the profs in a research department and thinking that they were really legit.


I joined [large established company] since I wanted to gain more experience with software engineering and also save some money so that later on, I can be ready to do a startup again.


I joined [media company] as a data scientist. It’s a good use of my CS skills as a start, but more importantly, I want to work in the media & entertainment industry. I love creating, especially videos. I applied to PM positions in tech companies too out of prestige, but I’m glad I didn’t get in, [media company] is a much better fit for me. I love this new job.


I’d already decided I’d join this company for full-time more than a year before graduation, I even interned there again before graduation. There’s great perks, the pay is great. My team was great and full of experts and they had cool projects. I even got to contribute to a paper!


The startup I’ve been working on these last two years is doing well, it’s sustaining my living expenses now! I’m ready to commit to it completely. I think I’ve learned enough interning at large companies and I really like owning my own projects.


I’ve been taking a year off before going to grad school and/or going into industry. This is to give myself time to learn and do things I’ve been wanting to do, explore, meeting new interesting people, and in generally, just find myself before making a long-term commitment. This will give me more time to be ready for my next step because after all, no one cares if you start grad school/work a year earlier or later.


Of the many companies I had the option of working at, one paid a lot more than the others, and was located in a city that was cheaper, more diverse, and where I assumed it would be easier to own a car.


I interned at some good companies but decided to do a masters. I want to make sure that, when I work full-time, I get to work on something interesting, so I want to acquire more depth in some area first. I still want more solid math & CS before leaving school. And I’ve only done part-time research before, which is not quite the same as doing it full-time. A master is only a year’s commitment anyway.


I took the offer on a whim. It was the first company I interviewed with and didn’t bother with interviewing elsewhere. I really liked their culture!


I’m continuing to work on this startup I cofounded. It’s getting a decent amount of traction, we have a few clients already. I used to feel pressure to lock down a full-time position but more and more I’m starting to realize it’s okay to deviate from the norm and take some time doing something else, until you find what you really want to do.


The two main companies I had to choose between both had really great culture and it was a tough choice. I ultimately went for the smaller one since they gave me a higher offer and I like the way mobile engineering is done there better.


I returned to [company I interned at]. I initially wasn’t going to, but I had an opportunity to join the data science team, which is really cool since they don’t usually hire new grads. But I got lucky enough to have gotten just the right AI experience before applying for full-time positions. So they gave me an interview and I got in!


I’m going to try to do a startup with friends. Nothing to lose for trying at this point right? If I can’t get funding — no problem! I’ll just get a job then.


I’m joining [company I interned at in the past], since it has super smart people to learn from and I really enjoy the work. I’m also looking forward to transferring to their foreign office after an initial period of training, since I like that the culture of countries in that continent.


I will keep working on my startup for a few months before I graduate. Since I’ve been mostly working on it while at school, I feel like I haven’t had the chance to give it my 100%. I know that if I don’t give it my all now, I’ll regret it later. Once I get comfortable with a full-time job, it’ll be hard to get out of that comfort. After 6 months, I’ll see if I want to keep going along that path or find a job.


I had the choice between two companies that I interned at the past, in an industry that generally makes good use of my math & CS background. One is small, the other large and established. I ended up going for the large one. They paid more and were located in a less expensive city. The work environment was better, more chill in general. Also, they have teams that work on a cool, niche and very technically involved area of the industry, which I wanted to do.


I’m returning to the company of my last internship. I like the company, but I especially liked my team there. Great people, good stack, and there’s some machine learning involved which is a nice option to have. There’s another company that I interned at three times in the past that’s also quite good, but they’re public, and I preferred joining a private company with a chance of IPOing soon.


I interned at [large famous company], then later at [smaller fast-growing company]. I liked the smaller one, but ultimately chose the big one because the infrastructure is more mature and the training & learning opportunities are better. They also have other offices you can transfer to, I’m hoping to transfer to their New York office at some point.