Last year, the leadership team of Foundry.ai gifted Knack Packs to their staff, some of whom will be joining the team after graduating in May.
Foundry.ai is a pretty cool company (and brilliant employees), so we asked to interview one of their “new grad” hires, Christopher Smith, to discuss what he’s learned while pursuing higher education – and what he’s excited for next.
It’s our hope that this post can help inspire other Class of 2019 graduates. If you have a student in your life, be sure to send them a link to this post!
Meet Christopher Smith
Christopher will graduate this May from Carnegie Mellon University, with both a Bachelor and Master of Electrical & Computer Engineering. Christopher was drawn to AI (and Foundry.ai) by his desire to continue learning. “Technology doesn’t slow down. Nothing stays the same. There’s always new emerging technologies. It’s imperative to continue to learn about new developments. That change keeps me engaged.”
Christopher decided to work at Foundry because of their dedication to staying ahead of the curve. “The founders are awesome and know their stuff,” he says. “I wanted to work at a small growing company where I can do a lot. The type of people at Foundry drew me, and getting that and working at a high-growth tech startup makes it even better.”
Advice for Other Engineering Students
Christopher’s looking forward to joining the Foundry team full-time, but first, we talked about his experience in an undergraduate engineering program. These programs can be fast paced, and it can be hard to pick one specific field when everything is so interesting.
When asked about advice for incoming freshman to Carnegie Mellon, Christopher stayed away from generalities – and got very specific with insight he wishes he had had when arriving on campus: “One of the more common decisions students make is between the Computer Science and Computer Engineering programs,” he shared. “I chose computer engineering because I wanted to understand everything about how computers work.”
The decision can be difficult for students, so Christopher broke it down: “Computer engineering is everything from low-level circuits to how the hardware in the computer interacts.” Computer science, on the other hand, is more “based on theory and math, specifically writing and proving algorithms.”
Funnily enough, students from both programs find themselves in similar positions post-grad. “The people from those majors get almost the same jobs, but they have slightly different personalities and philosophies,” he shared.
From Undergrad to Grad School
Christopher was able to take advantage of the fifth year master’s program, and the transition from undergrad to grad student went smoothly.
“Starting my senior year I started taking classes [for the graduate program],” he shares. “Switching to life as a grad student, I got to take classes I’m interested in. There’s not a long list of requirements and pre-reqs. At the beginning of the semester I could say, “I want to take 2 AI classes,’ and I took them.”
From Grad School to Full-Time Employment
After graduating, Christopher will be moving to Washington D.C. to work at Foundry.ai HQ. With that move comes a lot of change, but he’s ready. “I’m looking forward to working on a real thing, not a made up assignment or project, that a consumer cares about and that makes a company money,” he shares. “I’m ready to see something I work on be used in ‘the real world’. At some point in school, you get tired of working on fake products or assignments in classes.”
Using his Knack Pack Business Backpack
Christopher received the bag after shortly after receiving a job offer from Foundry.ai. “All the Foundry employees got a bag, and it felt pretty nice to have a sort of symbol of ‘joining the team’, because I’ll be starting more than 6 months since the signing of my offer letter.”
As part of his move from CMU to “real life” in DC, Christopher will be using his Knack Pack. “I use it everyday to take my stuff to campus,” he says. “And I definitely think the backpack will keep working for me post-grad. It’s been great for grad school to adult life, especially with the company name on it.”
Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Christopher! The Knack Bags team wishes you all success as you start this new chapter of your life.
Looking for a gift for the graduating student in your life? Check out the Knack Pack! An expandable professional backpack that can be used for daily carry as well as traveling.