When Derek McCarty graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2003 with a degree in computer science, he was one of the more fortunate members of his class. While many other graduates struggled to find a job, the Fitchburg company McCarty had interned at since his junior year in college offered to turn his part-time job into a full-time career. He gladly accepted.
“I don’t know what I’d be doing if I hadn’t done that internship,” McCarty said.
McCarty, who has continued to work his way up in the same information networks company and is now a systems engineer, did look for other jobs when he graduated just to keep his options open. But while he said he is glad he looked at what other jobs were available, he didn’t find much.
“I applied at three or four different places, and I got one interview out of those but no job offers,” McCarty said.
Getting an interview was the hardest part of his job search, McCarty said. Many of the jobs he applied for simply never contacted him in reply. He attributes much of this to the fact that nearly every company is looking for three to five years of experience in addition to a college degree.
McCarty said he found little help in the job fairs offered on campus, largely because they are not well suited for computer science majors in particular. He said the best decision he made was to work at an internship while still in college, which allowed him to gain a wealth of practical experience while showing his superiors what he knew and what he was capable of handling.
He highly recommends that other UW students seek out internships while they are still in school.
“Don’t turn down a job because you think you’re too good for it,” McCarty said. “And when you get done with school, don’t think you’re above doing certain things just because you have a degree. You have to get experience so people realize what you’re capable of.”