How CuseHacks Founder Caitlin Sanders ’21 Designed Her Syracuse Experience

Finding your best-fit college or university can be a daunting task. Many students who embark on their college search process have a few criteria in mind (i.e. size, location, major) but struggle to decide which campus to make their home.

Caitlin Sanders ’21 was in that very boat four years ago as a high school senior. She knew she wanted to study computer science and was looking for a university with lots of school spirit. When she visited Syracuse for the second time she realized the University was where she wanted to spend her undergraduate career.

Caitlin Sanders '21 during a site visit to Google's headquarters. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Sanders.
Caitlin Sanders ’21 during a site visit to Google’s headquarters. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Sanders.

Meet Caitlin Sanders ‘21
Hometown: Webster, NY
Major: Computer Science

What made you want to attend Syracuse?
I grew up an hour away from Syracuse and loved going to the Dome for games as a kid. I took an official tour of campus, but it wasn’t until I got a scarf in the mail from the College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) that I decided to do more research and attended an event for admitted students. There, I met with representatives from ECS and realized that Syracuse was the place I wanted to be.

How did you choose your major?
During my freshman year of high school, my geometry teacher encouraged all of his students to take his Intro to Computer Principles class. I took him up on the offer and loved it! After that, I continued to take all of the computer science classes my school offered, became co-president of the Coding Club, and started attending hackathons.

As a Computer Science major at Syracuse, I get to take classes like Social Media and Data Mining, which had everything I love rolled in to one: social media, Python, problem solving, and more. Nothing felt like homework – I thoroughly enjoyed my assignments for class.

I also feel very supported as an ECS student. Dr. Oh, the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department chair, helped me and a group of students bring the club we wanted on campus to life – CuseHacks – during my freshman year. I feel lucky Syracuse has these opportunities for me to pursue!

Caitlin is a founder of CuseHacks, Syracuse's first student-run hackathon. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Sanders.
Caitlin is a founder of CuseHacks, Syracuse’s first student-run hackathon. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Sanders.

So, what is Cuse Hacks?
A hackathon is a 24-hour event in which students come together in teams to create a project that solves a problem. There is free food, free t-shirts and “swag”, really cool prizes, as well as a bunch of companies there recruiting. I participated in a few hackathons during high school and when I got to Syracuse, I was excited to get involved in more. I was devastated to find out we didn’t have one on campus!

As a freshman, I partnered with four seniors also looking to start a hackathon. We planned and held the first CuseHacks in 2018 and there has been one every spring semester since! I am super excited to see the event continue to grow past my time here.

3 Caitlin is a member of Alpha Omega Epsilon, an academic Greek organization focused on STEM. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Sanders.
Caitlin is a member of Alpha Omega Epsilon, an academic Greek organization focused on STEM. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Sanders.

How has Syracuse helped you prepare for your future career?
My dream job since 7th grade has been to work at Google (I can’t believe anyone that watched “The Internship” when it came out felt otherwise). My dream career route, however, is staying in software engineering for a few years and trying many different things in order to have a breadth of technical knowledge and a variety of experience before pursuing a path in product management. I’ve had many opportunities to gain experience in the field throughout my time at Syracuse, including through internships at Lockheed Martin and Intuit. I’m also part of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority for women passionate about STEM!

What does your senior year have in store and what advice do you have for students hoping to pursue a major in Computer Science?
I am not taking classes this fall because I had an excess of credits and want to graduate with my class in May. This semester, I will be contributing to open source and personal projects and preparing for my job search and interview process!

I recommend any students interested in computer science pursue hands-on experiences. The only way to learn and prepare for the industry is to participate in internships and projects along the way. Go to every career fair and hackathon you can, use LinkedIn and lean on your professors and mentors for help!

What do you do for fun on campus?
I love attending hackathons and going to concerts. Syracuse has a big concert each semester – Juice Jam in the fall and Mayfest in the spring! Since COVID-19 hit, I’m also enjoying spending time with my roommates, going on hikes, and of course I love social media – Twitter, Tik Tok, etc.!

My favorite spot on campus is the fourth floor of Link Hall (home to ECS) and the third floor lounge of the Life Sciences Building (but the best bathroom is definitely in the bottom floor of Bowne Halll!).

A Day in the Life of a Falk College Senior

T’airrah Contee ’20, a graduate of David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, shares a typical day in her life as a Syracuse University senior! Read on to get a sense of her schedule and how she balances school, work, and fun.

Meet T’airrah Contee ‘20
Washington, D.C.
Human Development and Family Science

South Campus Apartments Interiors Winding Ridge Interior and Exterior 2018

8:00 a.m.
Time to wake up, start my day, and grab the shuttle to main campus. As a freshman I lived in Ernie Davis Hall, but since sophomore year, I’ve lived apartment-style on South Campus. “South” is only a five minute drive from main campus, and free shuttles run back and forth all day long! I share my apartment with one other friend and it’s nice to have our own space and kitchen to cook. I also keep a small meal plan so that I’m able to grab food on campus during busy days, as well!

9:00 a.m.
I grab a bagel or smoothie, and then head to class or my work-study job, depending on the day of the week. As a Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) major I typically have 2-3 classes per day ranging from 50-90 minutes each. One of my favorite classes was Mindfulness in Children and Youth with Dr. Rachel Razza. Since I know I want to work with youth in the future, it was really useful in terms of not only learning the research behind mindfulness but how to employ mindfulness techniques with kids. Another class I enjoyed was Lust, Love, and Relationships with Dr. Joseph Fanelli – it’s always full, even with non-HDFS majors!

The Barnes Center at the Arch is an integrated health, wellness, and recreation services center.
The Barnes Center at the Arch is an integrated health, wellness, and recreation services center.

If I don’t have a morning class, I work a shift at the brand-new Barnes Center at the Arch for 2-4 hours. The Barnes Center is home to our health center, counseling services, gyms, workout classes, an e-sports room, and more. At the Barnes Center, I’m responsible for checking people in to the fitness center, issuing equipment, and giving tours!

11:00 a.m.
I tend to stay on campus all day until I get my work done, so after class or work I head to Bird Library or the Schine Student Center (it’s currently undergoing a full renovation!) to get some homework and studying in. Sometimes I stop to say hello to staff and students in the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), where I am part of the Dimensions mentoring program or pop in to a campus event like the 11+ career fairs held throughout the year!

I also love to grab lunch with friends on Marshall Street before heading to my afternoon classes – I love the pizza at Varsity, plus Chipotle and Starbucks are favorite stand-bys.

3:00 p.m.
After my classes are done for the day, I head to my internship at the downtown Syracuse YWCA. I started working at the YWCA as part of my required 90-hour HDFS internship course, but I stayed on after I completed my hours because I enjoyed the experience so much. At the YWCA, I assist with after-school programs for girls ages 5-18. I help students with their homework, create and deliver lessons on anti-bullying and self-esteem, and organize fun activities like movie nights.

Not only is my internship fun, but it helped me gain experience in my field, and ultimately, helped me land my first full-time job as a kindergarten teacher and Capital Teaching Resident at KIPP DC! As a former KIPP student myself, it is exciting to be returning to my hometown to give back to the community that helped me get to where I am today!

The Dome is home to Syracuse’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as men’s football and lacrosse games.

6:00 p.m.
In the evenings you can find me studying in the library, making dinner at home with my roommate, meeting up with my Dimensions mentee, or having fun at a Syracuse basketball game or Orange After Dark activity. Even if you aren’t a huge sports fan, I recommend going to games– the school spirit at Syracuse is amazing and it’s a great way to have fun with your friends or meet new people. There are also so many free or low-cost events going on all the time, it’s not hard to find something to do!

Combining Business and Technology

Meet Julia Fontana ’19 G’20
Major: Information Management & Technology
Hometown: Nazareth, PA
High School: Nazareth High School
Activities: iSchool Peer Advisor, NEXIS Research and Innovation Lab, University 100 Student Ambassador

I began my career at Syracuse as a dual student in the iSchool and the Whitman School of Management. During my campus visit, I fell in love with the iSchool and the possibility of a curriculum that combined business and technology. I have always been interested in both areas and Syracuse was the only college I was looking at that had a formalized program where I could pursue both majors simultaneously.

Throughout my time at Syracuse, I have taken full advantage of every opportunity available to me. That’s my biggest piece of advice – there are awesome things happening in the iSchool, so make sure you’re making the most of them!

Collaborative, inviting environment for learning and discovery

The iSchool is more than just a building or college where students take classes. It truly is a community, a family of people, coming together to learn, discover, grow, and help each other.

Unlike any academic environment I’ve experienced before, the iSchool is completely collaborative. Students are encouraged to work together to solve problems and develop solutions. You see this spirit of community most clearly in NEXIS, an entirely student-run research lab located in the iSchool.

NEXIS has provided me with a platform to put what I learned in the classroom into action. It has opened the door to incredible opportunities I would not have otherwise considered.

Opportunities to make lasting alumni connections

As a sophomore, I took a fully-funded trip to New York City to visit the New York headquarters of EY and Microsoft. I participated in hands-on profes

sional development exercises and made lasting connections with Syracuse alumni. My team of students even presented our project to partners at EY!

World-class internship and job prospects

My summer before junior year was spent in Washington, DC at the Federal Reserve Board as an Applications Development + User Experience Intern. Right away I got to work on bug fixes, automation, usability expansion, and participated in client meetings. The work I did made it into production across the entire Federal Reserve Board! This incredible internship was made possible thanks to connections I made at the on-campus iSchool Spring Career Fair.

This internship served as a great way to practice the interpersonal skills I learned through the iSchool. Since I was working with both clients and developers, I had to speak both the technical language of my development team, as well as the business language of our clients. The iSchool taught me the importance of “speaking both languages” and putting it into practice further emphasized my classwork.

Immersion experiences in the real-life business world

During the Spring Break of my senior year, I traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area through the iSchool Immersion Experience program. We visited Syracuse alumni and friends at companies across Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area. I made 100 new contacts at huge organizations like Google, Uber, Cisco, and Twitter. We even met with startup companies like Density, which was started by iSchool alumni. It was incredible to learn about the tech-driven business culture of the Valley directly from members of the Orange family.

A background in management and technology has prepared me for a future of possibilities. My experiences have strengthened my interpersonal and communication skills and my technical knowledge. More so, I now understand the necessity of these skills in a business world that is growing more technologically-oriented. The iSchool’s flexible curriculum allowed me to take the courses that interest me most. Plus, the school’s abundance of extracurricular involvements have enriched my educational experience. I’ve even decided to spend another year at the iSchool to earn my Master of Science in Information Management through the Fast Track program!

Resume Building (Literally)

Summer’s comin’ in hot, and for a lot of college students, that means crunch time for internship hunting. Sam Schwartz, a fourth year student in Industrial Relations, took a different approach. He decided to do something big—he made the world’s largest resume.

I know what you’re thinking- how does one even go about doing that? Or come up with the idea? Sam was inspired by an internship application that required applicants to make something no one had ever made before. The application didn’t have a resume submission component, so he was worried he wouldn’t be able to come up with an idea that would showcase both his past experience and skills. But at 3:00 am on a Wednesday night in April, in the midst of applying to other internships, he thought, “hey, I could still show them my resume, I’ll just do it a little differently.”

Although there’s no official record for the world’s largest resume, Sam searched the web and didn’t find anything about other people trying to do something like this. He spent the following weekend building and filming his entire process, from designing the type on the computer to stenciling rows of letters on a tarp in Thornden Park. 

He spent countless hours hunched over, carefully lining up his stencils with the to-scale grid he made using yarn and stakes– since there was no measuring tape long enough for his 20X30 foott final product. A friend lent him a drone to get aerial footage, which shows just how huge this thing really is. Sam said there were definitely a few times he wanted to quit, especially when his alarm rang at 6:00 am on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But he trudged on, and has a lot to show for it.

Sam’s video already has over 3,000 views on Vimeo. He recently took an internship offer at a creative advertising firm in Chicago, and although it’s not the same internship that inspired him to build the resume, he’s still glad he followed through with it. Sam admitted that right now, the 30 ft tarp is just taking up a lot of space in his living room. But the experience, and his video, are testaments to his skills. If you want to see more of Sam’s work, check out his portfolio (


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.