The next time you hit “Add To Cart” on Amazon.com, you may be interacting with something programmed by a fellow Ford. Maggie Perkoff’s first post-collegiate job will be working for the largest internet-based retailer as a software engineer, improving Amazon’s older features and creating new ones.
“Haverford’s liberal arts view of computer science has done a lot [for me] because I’m not just good at coding in a specific language, but I’ve become good at problem solving,” says Perkoff, who has taken computer science classes since high school. “Even though we’re a liberal arts school, we can handle the technical stuff.”
Perkoff, who majored in both computer science and linguistics, exemplified this in her senior thesis, which used the Viterbi algorithm to consider the ability of computers to recognize sign language. While at Amazon, she hopes to work with speech recognition or on other accessibility-related features of e-commerce.
Above all, Perkoff credits her Haverford professors with preparing her for her new role. “[Associate] Professor John Dougherty was my thesis advisor, I love him dearly and he’s a wonderful mentor,” says Perkoff. “[Assistant Professor Sorelle Friedler] worked at Google before teaching at Haverford. As a female in the department who had gone through that process, she is my role model.”
Her professors also helped her prepare by completing mock interviews with her to show her what she could expect when applying to computer science-related positions. They also asked her coding questions currently used in the industry and videotaped her responses so she could see herself from an interviewer’s perspective.
—Jack Hasler ’15
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.