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Twist of fate leads CS alumnus to job with Internet powerhouse

Portrait of Kevin Melkowski.

Kevin Melkowski is a 2014 alumnus from the Computer Science Department who went on to work for Google, Inc. He returned to MIzzou Engineering for the Spring 2015 Career Fair to participate in a talk with current CS students on entering the workforce.

More than 1 billion YouTube subscribers upload approximately 100 hours of video every minute, and when offered the opportunity to work full-time for the company, owned by Google, Inc., recent alumnus Kevin Melkowski knew he had to take it.

“[Finding the job] was actually an accident,” Melkowski said. “I was looking for internships because I was starting out as a master’s student. I never intended on going to work full time.”

Melkowski earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science in May 2014. That summer, he began taking classes toward a graduate degree. “I asked a recruiter [from Google] if they had any internships available. They didn’t at the time, but later, I got a call asking if I’d be interested in applying for a full-time position.”

Melkowski was offered a job, and despite questioning if he was ready to work in industry, he took the opportunity and moved to the North California area earlier this year. He works as a software engineer for the YouTube division focused on creating tools that help the teams who monitor videos that violate YouTube’s safety policies, particularly for graphic violence or obscenity.

“We help them work through billions and billions of videos,” Melkowski said.

He has no immediate plans to return to grad school, and is excited for what working in industry will teach him.

“There are so many opportunities to learn here,” he said. “The team here is a whole different aspect of how things work. My manager is there to make sure I have everything that’s available to get the job done.” He added that the work environment encourages self-taught learning.

As a student, Melkowski conducted undergraduate research under Grant Scott, an assistant research professor with the Center for Geospatial Intelligence and an adjunct faculty in computer science. He’s particularly proud of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project he worked on that sought to geolocate ground photos.

“That was a great experience because it wasn’t the kind of work undergraduates would typically get to do,” Melkowski said. He also served as a teaching assistant for Scott’s student-built project to develop a web application to digitize and automate the Columbia Public School District’s magnet school application process as part of his Software Engineering 4320 class.

On campus, Melkowski, a five-year U.S. Navy veteran, also was involved with the Mizzou Student Veterans Association.

He’s returned to MU in February to give a presentation to undergraduate computer science students and recruit at the Spring MU Career Fair.