Aloke Desai ’16

Major: Computer Science
Profession: Software Engineer
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

What are you doing now?

For the past few months, I’ve been working at a tiny startup where I’m the first engineer (we haven’t launched anything publicly yet but hope to within the coming months!) Previously, I had been working at Google as a senior software engineer on Google Docs in New York City. After high school and college, the four-year timeframe felt natural and I wanted to work somewhere where I felt more passionate about the mission and the day-to-day work.

Outside of work, I love to cook and explore various areas of New York. I’m also extremely passionate about urbanism and how to make cities more accessible and equitable so I also spend a lot of my time attending events and attending local community board meetings to make this happen.

How did you get there?

While I was at Pomona Google employees would come every year to recruit so I got connected with them fairly early on. I was lucky enough to get an internship with Google Maps my junior year and then decided to move to New York and join Google Docs after graduation.

How did Pomona prepare you?

I didn’t know much about computer science coming in my first year and Pomona exposed me to it in a way that made it feel accessible and fun. I also took a fair amount of classes at Pomona that were writing-intensive and it made me a much better writer. While at Google I ended up spending a lot of time writing docs (an aspect of being a software developer that people don’t talk about enough!). The writing skills I developed at Pomona made me excel at writing docs when I often saw others who went to traditional engineering schools struggle.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

To be honest, I have no idea. If there’s anything working for the last four years of real life has shown, it’s that there are a lot of things I enjoy doing and that I have no idea what I want to do long-term. This used to sound really intimidating but I’ve come to embrace it much more and relish the ambiguity. I could see myself staying in tech in five years or being in an entirely different industry (I often dream about joining the restaurant industry in some capacity because of my love for cooking).

Any advice for prospective or current students?

Focus on taking classes that sound interesting, especially if it isn’t in your major! Though I loved my computer science classes, some of the classes that have stuck with me the most were outside of my major. If you plan on using your major directly in a job after you graduate there will be ample opportunities to learn more in that field as you work, but there are very rarely opportunities to really explore different topics on a daily basis like there were at Pomona.