Comp Sci Grad Takes Passion for Music to Pandora

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Rachel Rivera ’16, Computer Science Major

Rachel Rivera loves music.

A dancer and a classically trained flautist, the 21-year-old computer science graduate gets excited when she talks about her dance crew at Loyola Marymount University and a chance she had recently to jam with professors playing jazz on campus. 

And in early July, she will head to the Bay Area where she’ll begin working full time for Pandora Internet Radio. 

“It’s an absolute dream.” 

Rachel was offered a full-time position after a summer internship at Pandora’s Boulder, Colorado, office. She competed with 7,000 applicants to land one of the 70 paid internships with the progressive company. She believes her many opportunities at LMU – like working with a professor on a textbook – helped to make her application stand out. She’s certain her classwork applied directly to questions in the required technical interviews. 

Over the summer, Rachel worked on a process for making real-time programming changes in response to user feedback. Once onboard, she may work on internationalizing Pandora beyond the three countries where it’s currently available. She is really excited about the work, plus the many opportunities the company offers to listen to music. 

“They bring in artists to give private concerts to the employees,” she said, noting that she missed a private performance by one her favorite artists when she had to return to LMU after summer break. “There are also many opportunities to volunteer at music festivals.

“I was also being recruited by Google, Amazon, and Facebook – there was a lot of opportunity. I’m really excited about the one I chose,” she said. “My manager contacts me about once a month, asking how things are going, keeping me abreast of changes that are happening at Pandora.” 

The time after graduation before Rachel starts work is going to be a whirlwind. Over three weeks, she and her boyfriend plan to trek the coast of Peru, then travel inland to Machu Picchu. After that, she’ll spend two weeks in Europe with her family before moving into her apartment in San Francisco’s Mission District. 

She had this advice for future students: “LMU always treats its students as individuals, so if you want to pursue other passions you can do that. It’s also important to work hard. I encourage students to be really committed to their classes – it can open up a world of possibilities.”