Back In Person, After Hours Event Provides Genuine Connection Between Students and Employers

9/28/2022 9:03:14 AM Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

Third year student Drshika Asher and second-year student Mutmaina Adebayo both thoroughly enjoyed the casual atmosphere and meaningful discussions that helped them better grasp their future possibilities.

Written by Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

Beginning her third year as a Computer Science major, Drshika Asher has already held internships with companies like EnterpriseWorks, Cargill, and Microsoft Research. Still, she hasn’t even experienced the department’s After Hours event in-person before.

Illinois CS student Drshika Ashar posing for a portrait outside on a sidewalk.
Drishika Asher

As a less formal recruitment event for students and employers, After Hours presents a unique opportunity for interaction. However, departmental events over the past couple of years have been held mostly through virtual mean, due to restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this year, Asher wove her way between more than 2,000 other students who attended the After Hours event held at the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science on September 12. She spoke with recruiters, whose conversations she found meaningful as she continues to plan for her future. She chatted with friends and peers who made their way over. She enjoyed the food and picked up on a significant amount of advice.

It was the type of in-person event that she had hoped to attend for several years.

“Given that everything was mostly online last year, this was my first time experiencing an in-person After Hours event, and I was genuinely curious to see what that looked like,” Asher said. “I also wanted to talk with some alumni from companies like Meta as I consider my final summer internship and then full-time roles to follow.

“I think having the recruiters’ perspectives really helped me conceptualize what the work I want to do some day will look like in comparison to the rigor of classes here and the opportunities already provided to us.”

Students fill two levels of the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science to attend the After Hours event.
Students and recruiters filled the halls of the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science during the After Hours event.

She also spoke with a recruiter for Motorola Solutions, who also happens to be a software engineer there, an Illinois alum, and Asher’s friend.

“I honestly had a great time,” she said. “The food provided was delicious, I was able to interact with all the recruiters that I wanted to, and the company map provided was super helpful to navigate all the booths and to plan out your route. Especially given the recession and the hiring freezes at many companies, I think this experience was the best it could get.”

In total, 19 companies were represented at the After Hours event, making recruiters available to answer student questions, explain the motivations of their company, and present potential opportunities for students to consider.

Much like Asher, Mutmaina Adebayo – a second-year student majoring in CS + Philosophy – found the experience enlightening.

Adebayo is also a research assistant studying the security risks of file eco-sharing systems. She has also previously served as a coding tutor for kids. She came to After Hours with no expectations, instead opening herself up to the experience to glean as much information as possible from an open slate.

Mutmaina Adebayo
Mutmaina Adebayo

“Since I didn’t come in with expectations, I would say the event was better than I could have imagined,” Adebayo said. “I sincerely enjoyed talking to the recruiters, and it was also great practice for the career fair.

“Before the event I didn’t know that the recruiters would be alumni, but I loved that many were – because they were once students, just like us, and it was nice knowing the possible career opportunities that are out there for us after graduation.”

She said afterward that another meaningful aspect of the event was the way it tore down barriers between students and employers.

Adebayo said that the many connections she made with recruiters – from companies like John Deere, Ocient, Motorola Solutions, and Capital One – allowed her to see how positions within their companies aligned with her interests.

According to CJ Coleman, executive director of External Relations at Illinois CS, that is the main purpose the After Hours event serves.

“When direct connections between students and employers takes place, it’s so clear to see the benefit that occurs for each,” Coleman said. “Our students excel in the classroom as some of the brightest minds in computer science, and they thrive through the corporate connections that manifest over time and lead to amazing work being done after their time as students.”

In fact, students and company representatives can now explore the new Corporate page on the Illinois CS website to better understand all the opportunities at their fingertips.

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This story was published September 28, 2022.