Patty Hicks
Athena Talks
Published in
4 min readApr 1, 2016


Young Woman + Computer Science Major = Great Job. It’s not that easy.

Both of my children are computer science majors in college. My son accepted one of several offers five months before he graduated. My daughter graduates in May and has had many interviews and not a single offer. Why?

Interest and Awareness

My son knew he would major in computer science or computer engineering his freshman year of high school. He joined the computer club and started learning about hardware and software. He and his new friends enjoyed building computers, hosting LAN parties, playing video games and driving around town on big garbage days to look for discarded computers. And of course he loved building things with Lego.

My daughter’s world was more musical. She enjoyed playing the violin and was in the school orchestra. Many of her friends were musicians and that took up quite a bit of her time. She also enjoyed math and entertained the idea of being a high school math teacher.

Choosing a College

My son decided on a 3 + 2 Dual Degree engineering program. He started at a small liberal arts school and then transferred to Washington University in St. Louis. WashU’s school of computer science and engineering is outstanding. The faculty and resources are top-notch and they also did a great job with the transfer students. He fit right in and his two roommates were also in a 3 +2 or 4 + 2 program.

My daughter decided to major in math so we researched small liberal arts schools with excellent math departments. She chose a small school in Memphis and settled right in. Everyone was very nice and she was doing well in her math classes. One of her professors suggested that she take a computer science class or two since that fit well with a math major.


WashU has on-site recruiting for internships as well as employment. My son was offered a great internship opportunity and spent the summer after his junior year writing software for a medical software company in the Midwest. He enjoyed it and they were very happy with him and gave him an offer for full time employment upon graduation.

My daughter continued to take more CS classes. She was surprised to discover how much she enjoyed the classes and that she was also really good at it. She formally changed her major the start of her junior year and began applying for internships. There is no on-site recruiting at her school. The CS department has less than fifty students.

She didn’t get an internship. All potential employers said she hadn’t taken enough CS classes. She spent the spring semester studying CS in Budapest Hungary. That was an amazing experience! This was a program for American students that wanted to study CS abroad. She made great friends, traveled all over Europe and learned Java, Android App development and a little UX/UI.

She spent the summer doing curriculum writing for her professors and teaching a Google funded coding camp for girls.

Job Search

My son applied to a tech company at an on-site career fair the fall of his senior year. He had a mini interview on campus and was invited to their headquarters for a series of interviews. They offered him a job and he accepted.

My daughter began applying for jobs last October. Like my son she is looking for jobs on the west coast. But her college does not have recruiters on campus and they don’t have career fairs for CS students. She has applied to at least 50 companies. Several never responded. She has had numerous interviews but no job offers. Those that provided feedback said she needs 6–12 months of work experience or an internship.

Now What?

I wish I knew. She can’t get work experience because no one will hire her. She can’t get an internship because she will be graduating in May.

I teach a CS concepts/coding class at a middle school and have been telling my students all they need to do is major in CS in college and they will have great jobs. All the statistics talk about the thousands of open jobs with no CS majors to fill them.

But clearly it isn’t all that easy. My daughter had all the expected CS courses and did very well, and has the GPA and professor recommendations to prove that.

I think the correct equation is this:

Young Woman + Early Interest in CS + Major in CS + College with Resources + Internship = Great Job



Patty Hicks
Athena Talks

Educator, legacy programmer (aka dinosaur), road warrior.