Recent Graduates Shape Their Path
By Stefanie Johndrow
Students who graduate from Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, are sought after by employers and universities across the globe.
Dietrich College graduates Francis Lee (DC 2022), Asad Sheikh (DC 2022) and Kirsten Heuring (DC 2021) represent just a few of the recent Dietrich College graduates who have secured their first post-graduation roles.
Lee is working at FTI Consulting, a technology consulting firm in Washington, D.C. after graduating this spring from the Department of Social and Decision Sciences with a degree in decision science, an additional major in behavioral economics, policy and organizations (BEPO) and a minor in policy and management.
The analytical thinking and communication skills Lee sharpened through his education in Dietrich College have given him the foundation he needs in his new consulting role.
“Approaching things analytically is definitely one of the things that I did learn in our particular curriculum. I think that’s absolutely been critical in transitioning into this consulting role,” Lee said. “The other thing is being able to communicate what I am thinking but also understanding what others are thinking.”
During his time at CMU, Lee became an avid bagpipe player — he even played at the department’s diploma ceremony this year. He was also a member of the Quantitative Social Science Scholars Program (QSSS). Running a final research project in QSSS while also working on the BEPO capstone course were two impactful learning experiences for Lee.
“Doing all of these things at once was tricky, but also it trained me quite well for the practical side of all of these things, which was to manage all of this at the same time and not lose track,” Lee said.
Last summer, Sheikh, a graduate of the Department of Statistics and Data Science, interned with Flatiron Health. This summer, he is returning as a data scientist.
“My [statistics and machine learning] background translated a lot into my internship at Flatiron. I also felt like I’ve been able to apply what I learned in my statistics classes in a real-world setting,” Sheikh said. “I had taken some applied classes that were in and out of Dietrich, and I felt like that was a lot more helpful in terms of translating what I was learning in the core stats curriculum into a real-world application so that by the time I got to Flatiron I already knew exactly how to go about either approaching modeling problems we were doing or understanding the work that was going on at Flatiron from a technical and statistical aspect.”
When Sheikh arrived at CMU, he didn’t know how to code, but through his classes in statistics & data science and human-computer interaction, he gained new skills, like learning how to code, that he “can use to create good.”
“I would encourage students to be open to learning about all of the different areas in which their studies can go and not to really box themselves when they come into CMU,” Sheikh said. “Keeping an open mind, especially at the start of your undergraduate career, is really important, because it can lead to some incredible opportunities.”
Sheikh added, “And listen to your advisors. They know what they are doing.”
Heuring graduated in December 2021 and accepted a position somewhere familiar: CMU’s Mellon College of Science. Heuring, a graduate of the Department of English’s Master’s in Professional Writing program (MAPW), applied for the communications specialist role after completing an internship with Dietrich College’s communications team.
“I really appreciated that part of the [MAPW] program is the summer internship, which is required for graduation,” Heuring said. “[My supervisor’s] recommendation, with my background both as an MAPW and with my internship, helped seal the deal for my job here.”
By offering classes on topics that range from design to writing to rhetoric, the MAPW program teaches students to be versatile writers.
“Having all of these different background skills has helped flesh out the parts of my job that I didn’t know were going to be as important as they are,” Heuring said.
For Heuring, finding opportunities to incorporate her interests into her graduate and professional work at CMU has been key.
“Though hard work is important, it’s also important to have fun with what you’re doing,” Heuring said. “When I was choosing classes or projects, I picked them because I thought they were interesting topics or I thought they might be useful. Some of them I just picked because I thought they would make me happy and be fun for me to do.”