Interview by James McConnaughey
1. Do you have any immediate post-grad celebration plans?
Joey: Finally introduce my family to my Mudder friends, then head home for a few weeks before I start work.
Christian: Just go home and spend some time with my family before I leave. Probably going to help coach my little brother’s hockey team for the summer and workout with all my younger siblings. But in general, the celebration will be as much family time as I can sneak in before being gone for a year.
Sejal: Not particularly. I’m not totally sure because we should found out that my aunt and uncle will be flying in for graduation, so plans are still in flux.
2. Are you leaning towards grad school, industry, NGO/service, gap years, etc? Elaborate.
Joey: Industry: AMAZON, baby!
Christian: Definitely grad school…eventually. I’m taking a year for the Watson first. On the Watson I’ll be traveling to Malawi, The Republic of the Congo, China, and Russia. I’ll be looking at the ways in which doctors interact with the communities they serve and how increasing trust helps health outcomes. And that will be somewhat related to my hopeful future career in medical research. I’m planning to pursue an M.D. / Ph.D. to study infectious disease.
Sejal: As of right now I’m leaning towards industry, but I’d like to go to grad school eventually.
3. How have you been approaching and exploring your options and decisions?
Joey: I decided this summer that I’d rather do industry than grad school, and for CS they want to get you really early, so I started applying places in September and October. As far as decisions go, I was mostly just looking for somewhere I could code that would pay well and wasn’t silicon valley — as a city kid it feels like the middle of nowhere. I wanted to move back to Chicago where I grew up, but it’s harder to find coding jobs there unless you’re into finance. Still REALLY PUMPED about Amazon though!
Christian: My plan has revolved around a piece of advice my dad gave me. Basically, if the path ahead of you is clear, you’re probably walking down someone else’s path. It’s made me feel a little bit more comfortable with the kind of limbo I’ve found myself in. The Watson is an opportunity I will never have again in my life, so I’m very okay putting everything on hold for that. And while I feel confident now that I want an M.D. / Ph.D., I haven’t yet applied and could completely change my mind depending on how the next year goes.
Sejal: I’ve always had an inclination towards industry. I guess right now I’ve been trying to figure out where my interest lie, so I’ve figured that maybe working for a few years will help me figure out where my interests really lie [with respect to chemistry/chemical engineering], and I will pursue a graduate degree in that field.
4. Which professors, courses, clubs, or experiences helped shape your trajectory/ambitions for the future?
Joey: Definitely CS5 and 60 with Dodds. I came here thinking I wanted to study Math or Chemistry, and ended up a programmer. Dodds’ classes were a HUGE part of that change. Also when I realized I didn’t hate CS70 even though it was a sh*t-ton of work.
Christian: A number of professors have had huge impacts on me both personally and academically. It would be ridiculous to try and name them all now, but one in particular has had an obvious and massive personal and professional impact, and that is professor Haushalter. He is my major advisor, research advisor, teaches many of my classes and has been a really close mentor and friend. He also taught an HIV course that looks at both the social and scientific sides of the disease to give individuals a full picture. This class and a course known as the Napier course down at Pomona have had the most impact on me during my time at Mudd. Both have helped me see my future career as more than just a job, but in fact a vocation.
Sejal: A lot of professors have definitely had an impact on my trajectory at Mudd. I think the major one would be my major advisor, Prof. Van Ryswyk, because by working in his lab I figured out that I was more interested in research and development, rather than academia.
5. Where will you be headed, geographically? Is that a significant factor for you?
Joey: Amazon’s campus is near downtown Seattle. It appeals very much to my urban sensibilities.
Christian: While I would really love to be near family (wherever they end up, they move around quite a bit), at the end of the day I’ll take what I can get.
Sejal: I’m really up in the air, geographically. I don’t have a specific preference for any location, though I would prefer to be in warmer climates.
6. What other considerations have you included in the decision?
Joey: My girlfriend Emily is at Pitzer and she’s coming with, so she had veto power over where we moved.
Christian: I want to keep as many doors and opportunities open for as long as possible. In the short term I have been trying to take very little off the table, and that has been a large consideration. Other than that, my only real considerations are potentially family and where I think I can learn the most and have the most impact.
Sejal: I don’t think there have been many considerations. I have been trying to keep as many options open as possible.
7. What advice do you have for the next few graduating classes after you?
Joey: If you love CS5, take 60 and 70. You might discover a new passion and if you do you’ll have a really easy time finding a job.
Christian: Be okay with having no idea what you’re going to do in the short term. It’s always important to have long term goals, but it’s also important to not get caught up in living someone else’s predetermined path for your life. Strongly consider a gap year, whether it is with an official fellowship, or just chilling or just with a job. Take some time and focus yourself before your next big step.
Sejal: Be ok with wherever you’re at right now. Don’t try to force yourself into something because you feel like you have to get a job or go to grad school right now. Do it because you enjoy it. I think that’s the biggest thing to take into account.
8. Anything else you would like to say… (Will you miss anything in particular about Mudd?)
Joey: It’s really sad to be leaving all the friends and stories I have here, but I’m really excited that Emily and I get to start something new!
Christian: I came to Mudd for the academic rigor and the other 4 Cs. But that has been far from the most important thing to me during my time here. The 4 years I’ve spent at Harvey Mudd College are the longest I have spent anywhere in my entire life. Mudd is more a home to me than anywhere I have ever been. Every memorable moment at this college comes from the people around me. I cannot believe that I will have to say goodbye to this community that has so warmly allowed me in. I will deeply miss all of my friends whom I have come to really care about over these four years. I will also miss the faculty that have profoundly shaped my life and the staff with whom I’ve become increasingly close over the last few years. I can never repay this college or this community what it has done for me.
Sejal: The biggest thing that I’m going to miss is the community. It’s been a fantastic four years. I have an amazing group of friends that have helped through a lot of difficult times. Being so close to such a great support network is the biggest thing that I’m going to miss.