When 14 students from Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering visited New Relic earlier this week, they asked some unusual questions. You see, most of the group wasn’t studying computer science, but a variety of engineering disciplines, from mechanical to bio-medical. This led to lively discussions and useful advice about how their knowledge and training could translate to careers in modern software and software analytics at a company like New Relic.
The two-hour visit was part of the school’s annual “Career Trek” tour of companies in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It’s designed to introduce Dartmouth engineering students to the burgeoning technology industry. The students explored our San Francisco headquarters and lunched with New Relic leaders to discuss the company, the industry, and potential internships and networking.
Mikey Butler, SVP of Engineering, offered practical, real-world career advice, noting, for example, that because technologies often come in 3-4 year cycles, young engineers who stay in one company forever risk becoming “backbenchers” for the next hot technology.
Telling a story
Erica Schultz, EVP of Commercial and Enterprise Sales (and a proud Dartmouth grad) used her own background as a Spanish Language and Latin American Studies major who joined a highly structured training program at a large tech firm to provide a poignant answer to a recurring question from the group: How does a student or recent grad in search of job opportunities in the tech world stand out among other candidates?
“Put some thought into your narrative,” Erica suggested. “Think about why you studied what you did, why you accepted that specific internship and determine what important lessons you took away from those experiences.”
“At the end of the day, people aren’t as interested in what you studied, but more so why you studied it and that you gained something important from your studies. New Relic is growing and changing so quickly, so hiring managers want to see that you’re curious and able to thrive in an environment that is always evolving.”
Is computer science a requirement?
Senior Software Engineer Jacob Groundwater addressed the students’ concerns that they would need computer science training to work in the software industry. “Having formal computer science training gives you an edge up on a certain class of problems,” he explained, “but by no means is that the only class of problems. And it’s not even among the highest class of problems that we tackle. The biggest blunder is that you built the wrong thing. It doesn’t matter how well it runs if it doesn’t solve the right problem.”
Going beyond the resume
Competition for jobs in the tech industry is no joke. A multitude of components can affect your candidacy, but networking is always important. “I hate to say that networking plays as big of a role as it does,” Jacob admitted, “but it’s huge.” Even if you’re from an Ivy League school, a resume isn’t the only thing that matters. Connecting with professionals that work in fields you’re interested in can help with informed advice, specific insights, and—if you’re lucky—maybe a relevant job opening.
New Relic Senior Programs Specialist Marion Long put it succinctly: “When someone like Mikey Butler gives you his business card, you better reach out to him immediately!”
For more information about working at New Relic, check out our Careers page and job listings.