Over 600 USC students and several major technology companies, including Google, Lyft and Microsoft, gathered on the Epstein Family Plaza Engineering Quad on Wednesday, Sept. 12 for the launch of the new Computer Science Industry Affiliate Program (IAP) at USC. After the inauguration event, there was a career fair during which undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. computer science majors met representatives from the program’s affiliate companies and had the opportunity to network, apply for jobs, and explore research opportunities.
Both the IAP inauguration and the career fair were a success, said Professor Cyrus Shahabi, chair of USC Viterbi’s Department of Computer Science and program founder.
“We had excellent feedback from affiliates,” he said. “One affiliate commented that this is the most successful career fair they’ve been a part of, with a record number of exceptional students and exceptional resumes received.”
In his opening remarks, Shahabi discussed the formation of the new program. “The IAP was developed to facilitate a closer collaboration between the industry and our computer science department; not just with students, but also with faculty and researchers.”
Shahabi also introduced the research of many faculty in the CS department and welcomed the affiliate companies to the event.
After the inauguration ceremony, the career fair began. Students had the chance to introduce themselves to the companies, share their resumes, and apply for internships, jobs and research positions.
“I got to talk to two companies, Google and Plug and Play,” said Cerina de Graca, an undergraduate computer science student. “I like going to the events to understand what employers are looking for and to educate myself about the industry.”
She added: “As one of the top engineering schools and one of the largest private employers in Los Angeles, it’s important [for USC Viterbi] to have a voice in our local tech landscape. For us students, bringing more employers here to connect with us helps bridge that transition from academia to the workforce.”
Shahabi plans to make the IAP Career Fair an annual event. In the meantime, the program will develop customized plans of engagement for each different affiliate company. Companies will attend conferences, seminars, research presentations and other special events, based on their needs.
“The Industry Affiliate Program is more than just recruiting opportunities for our CS students,” Shahabi explained. “It also creates opportunities for research collaborations between our affiliates, CS faculty and students.”
The new program, Shahabi added, benefits companies as much as the CS department. That’s because it offers businesses more targeted recruiting opportunities, giving them access to talented computer science students with fresh, new ideas and promising futures. In addition, it provides a channel for the companies to interact with top faculty and researchers in the field. Finally, the program provides a branding opportunity for the businesses.
USC Viterbi’s Department of Computer Science has already proven itself in the job market. According to Quartz, USC sends the fourth largest number of employees to Silicon Valley of any university in the nation.
With the launch of the Industry Affiliate Program, Shahabi hopes that the mutually beneficial relationship between USC students and leading technology companies will become even stronger.
“It is more important than ever for any computer science department to work closely with the industry,” Shahabi said.