How Scholarships Help: Emily Shack ’15

7 May 2015

Emily Shack ’15
Baucus & Co. Endowed Scholarship Fund

After six or seven job interviews in just a few days’ time, Emily Shack ’15 landed her dream job: software engineer at Google in Mountain View, California.

The technology behemoth is a far cry from where Emily thought she might end up. She came to Carleton from Seattle intending to be a Cinema and Media Studies major, but after taking Introduction to Computer Science fall term her freshman year, she fell in love.

“Computer science was all the things I liked about math without the things I didn’t like about math classes,” Emily says. “I liked that it was quantitative, that you could write a program and then test it to tell if you were doing something right.” The field also seemed to have more real world application than other math classes, she says.

Once she found her passion, Emily became as involved in the computer science program as she could. She worked on a computer science research project over a summer to create a framework for home computer networks to diagnose and fix themselves, and senior year, she became a computer science prefect.

Through her involvement with the computer science department, she learned about the national Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference and attended twice while at Carleton. During her last conference she prepared for a whirlwind of job interviews, which culminated in a job offer from Google.

“I called my parents, and then I called everyone I knew,” she says about hearing her good news. “Then I baked a cake because I didn’t know what else to do. I gave slices to everyone who had written me letters of recommendation.”

Even with this monumental achievement and all her success with computer science, Emily says her proudest moment from her Carleton career did not come from the CS department. In fact, the moment she is most proud of is when she made it into her first play with the student theater group. This is when her friend group really expanded, and she truly found her community.

That sense of community and support is crucial to Emily—so much so that she doesn’t mention career in her long-term goals. Instead, she strives to one day have a family and to always have good people in her life. They’re more qualitative goals that would seem a perfect counterbalance to the quantitative job she sought.

Of course, balance is what a liberal arts education and Carleton is all about. She believes interpersonal, critical thinking, and writing skills carry more weight. More and more companies—like Google—seem to be hiring that way, too, these days.

“I’ve taken classes in so many disciplines, from creative writing to art,” Emily says. “It’s nice for mental health to keep exploring. And because I got to play the field a little bit, I really developed a passion for computer science and am sure this is what I want to do.”

Emily Shack '15

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