South Orangetown Central School District

Computer Science Career Speaker Series

Yesterday afternoon, Tappan Zee High School students had the opportunity to hear from four panelists who work in the field of Computer Science as part of TZHS’s Career Speaker Series.

Career Speaker Series panelists described their current jobs, education and skills required to work in the field, internship experiences and what sparked their interest in computer science. Panelists included Amanda Bermel (TZHS alumna, class of 2018), Margaret Cook, Nicole Malpeli (TZHS alumna, class of 2018) and Amy Zhang (TZHS alumna, class of 2016).

TZHS Assistant Principal Paul Frisch moderated the panel and when asked about what inspired them to pursue computer science, each of our TZHS alumnae credited TZHS Computer Science teacher Karen Connell. “My interest really started with Mrs. Connell in her Computer Science class. It wasn’t initially my plan to study computer science but when I went to college, I found myself going back to that field because it’s fun to build things and see your work come to life,” said Zhang.

Each panelist spoke about how broad the field is and how there are always opportunities to work in an industry that you’re passionate about while working in technology. “I initially studied biology when I was in college until I switched to computer science in my sophomore year. When I began talking to people in the industry, I realized that you can work in other industries while still working in the computer science field. There are no doors closed when you study computer science. You will have the opportunity to link your interests to a career in this field. I’m interested in healthcare and through my current job as a Software Engineer with a health insurance tech company, I’m able to do both,” explained Malpeli.

Panelists also spoke about the importance of mentorship and maintaining relationships with people in the field. Cook noted, “Always look for mentorship! When you’re in college after taking some classes, try and get some exposure to what seniors are doing versus what you’re doing as a freshman so you can plan ahead. You always want to look forward and ask questions. Establish those relationships with mentors, even if they’re not in the computer science field, because you never know when a door will open for you and an opportunity will present itself.”

Before opening the floor to questions, Frisch asked them to explain how students should look for an internship. Advice included keeping your resume updated, focusing on honing your coding skills because that can be part of the interview process and to use the resources that are available at your college or university. Bermel added, “When I was in college, I actually interned within the school district for the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center (LHRIC) and worked one summer to help set up the computers throughout the district for the start of the school year.”