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As large tech companies freeze hiring, CS professors urge calm for concentrators

Students should consider smaller companies, utilize Brown resources, two professors say

This fall, several major tech companies announced layoffs and hiring freezes. Meta, Microsoft and Alphabet have all slowed the pace of their hiring, while companies like Snap, Stripe and Lyft have either cut or have plans to cut between 13% and 20% of their staff, The New York Times reported. Amazon also announced that it would pause its corporate hiring, citing an “uncertain” economy and “how many people (they) have hired in the last few years,” according to an internal note sent to employees.

Industry giants like Meta, Twitter and Stripe have openly admitted to hiring too many workers over the last two years. In explaining its decision to slow hiring, Alphabet reported decreases in ad revenues across their platforms.

But for computer science concentrators looking to start their careers after graduation, the slowdown should not be cause for excessive concern, two CS professors told The Herald. While the industry’s most prominent companies are in a volatile position, the industry as a whole is healthy, they said.

“It is very easy to panic here,” said Shriram Krishnamurthi, professor of computer science. National media coverage tends to center on the most prominent tech companies, Krishnamurthi said, meaning that news of their hiring slowdowns shapes the narrative about the entire industry.

Krishnamurthi said he is not worried about the broader tech job market, pointing to “thousands” of smaller companies that are actively hiring. And even non-tech companies still need qualified staff to build and manage their tech operations, as today nearly every company is, “at some level, a tech company.” 

While major tech companies are either feeling the after effects of slowed advertising spending or correcting for overhiring, the broader industry is not in crisis as many smaller companies have grown at more steady rates, Krishnamurthi said. “There is no shortage of jobs at (these) companies,” he added.

Nationally, college students who study computer science fare better in their early careers than almost any other field of study, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. At Brown, computer science concentrators report higher median earnings — $184,762 — than in any other field of study. According to 2019 data from the U.S. Department of Education, Brown CS graduates fare better than those from any other school, receiving a median salary of $141,100 one year after graduation. 

Krishnamurthi acknowledged that the job market may seem “complicated” right now for students. “But ‘it's complicated’ is different from ‘oh, my God, the entire industry has shut down and everything has gone to hell,’” he said.

Krishnamurthi noted that he is a computer science professor and not an economist, meaning that he cannot predict broader macroeconomic trends. Norm Meyrowitz ’81, adjunct professor of computer science, echoed that students should not panic.

“Take deep breaths and learn not to look at the peak highs or the lowest lows,” Meyrowitz advised. “If you can’t work at Facebook or Google, you are still valuable.”

For Krishnamurthi, helping students navigate the hiring slowdown is a matter of changing their perspective on the job market, something he has already been working on within the CS department, he said. He wants students to look beyond the few major companies that dominate perceptions of the tech industry and instead consider jobs at other companies that he considers just as innovative and exciting.

Meyrowitz offered similar advice, encouraging students to reflect on their passions and “go after companies that really pique (their) interest, as opposed to just the usual suspects.”

After seeing the news about hiring freezes, Krishnamurthi collaborated with CareerLAB to compile resources for CS students looking for guidance on finding jobs and internships. The resources, which were shared in a Nov. 8 email from Kathi Fisler, associate director of the CS undergraduate program, include links to several job posting platforms and the Brown CS Facebook group that connects current undergraduates with alumni. The email, which was reviewed by The Herald, also advised that “many smaller companies are still hiring” and included the link to a Twitter thread in which scores of people shared links to job postings at smaller tech companies.

Krishnamurthi also highlighted CareerLAB as a resource for CS students. 

“As the tech job market has changed, CareerLAB's career counselors have been meeting one-on-one with students … to discuss their challenges and concerns,” Amy Tarbox, associate director of career counseling and campus partnerships, wrote in an email to The Herald. The CareerLAB website also offers recorded workshops on topics such as resume and cover letter creation, as well as job searching and interviewing, she added.

In response to the recent layoffs in the tech and nonprofit sectors, the Office of Alumni Relations has introduced a rapid-response program aimed at connecting alumni with one another to provide advice and support, said Zack Langway ’09, vice president of alumni relations.

“We see the anxiety expressed by alums, and we wanted to get something quickly to our communities so that they are able to build connections and skills to move them forward to their next step,” Langway said.

To participate in the program, alumni can fill out an interest form indicating whether they would like to give or receive support, and what type of support they are seeking or able to offer. Langway said response to the form has been “phenomenal” since it was sent out to the alumni community via email Monday morning.

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Langway also emphasized that the alumni community is a great resource for current students as they launch their careers. “Undergraduates today can expect to be warmly welcomed into the Brown alumni community and (receive) all kinds of support, guidance and mentorship from their fellow Brown alums as they are making those first steps,” he said.


Sam Levine

Sam Levine is a senior staff writer from Brooklyn, New York covering staff and student labor. He is a sophomore concentrating in International and Public Affairs.



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