'Coffee and Conversation' connects CoS students with alumni in their fields of study


Coffee & Conversation


About 30 College of Science students convened in the Purdue Memorial Union on Feb. 26 for the unique opportunity to pick the brains of successful Computer Science alumni and other professionals.

The “Coffee & Conversation” program debuted on this night. After fueling up on caffeine, students broke into small groups with a computer science professional. The students asked questions about how the pro got to his or her level, how they enjoy their current position, if they pursued more education and how they were able to find a job in the first place.

The coffee might have been strong but the conversation, tips and encouragement the students picked up from the computer scientists were stronger.

After 10 minutes, the computer scientist got up and joined another small group. In all, the groups met with four different scientists to bounce questions off of. The format was sort of like speed dating but with a professional twist. 

The pros stayed for about 30 minutes after the event to talk to students one on one.

The goal of the “Coffee & Conversation” program is to give students an informal setting to ask questions without getting lost in a lecture hall or being intimidated in an interview-like situation, said Tamara Clarkson, career development and retention specialist for the College of Science.

The students got to encounter a variety of alumni and professionals. For this Computer Science event, Clarkson along with the collaboration with Liz Majewski, Angela Watkins and the Purdue Science Student Council brought in a mix of veteran and younger computer scientists. Some were based in West Lafayette while others came from Indianapolis and South Bend. The roster consisted of Adam Thomas, Brian M. Schneider and Yaw Nti-Addae from Dow AgroSciences, Beth Richardson (CS ’03) from Luther Consulting, Matthew Rogers (CS ’07) from Gannett, Kevin Houin (CS ’85) from AM General and Rachel VanWinkle (CS ‘01), who uses her graphic design and software engineering skills at Beckman Coulter.

Houin said the students he met with asked excellent questions and he recalled being in the same unsure position they are in now almost 30 years ago.

The next “Coffee & Conversation” program is set for 6:30 p.m. April 15 in Purdue Memorial Union, Room 118. To sign up, click here.


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