Alumni Highlight: Sam Lemon

You never know where an ordinary conversation could lead – for graduate Sam Lemon (‘20), a simple chat with a previous neighbor resulted in a full-time job. 

Sam was a computer science major at the College of Charleston, and he always knew he wanted to incorporate coding into his career. Shortly after graduatinghe was offered a position as a Software Engineer and now uses coding daily to address client needs. 

“I landed this position in a roundabout way. I ran into this old neighbor of mine from growing up and I started talking with him about how I just graduated college with a major in computer science. He has a cyber security company along with other businesses, and he said he needed an intern to help around the office. So, I joined to help with IT in the office. Shortly after, he wanted to create a startup for a software company called primal. He brought me on to the team along with two other software engineers.” 

Sam’s office has a small engineering team and a sales team. The sales team brings in clients with software needs and the software engineering team works to address those needs, such as editing web pages to give them more functionality, creating apps, and finding solutions to current software. Sam and his team have also worked on projects creating databases, aggregating data, and displaying the data on customizable dashboards. 

My favorite thing to do is digging into the code and trying to figure out creative and efficient ways to solve whatever kind of problem is thrown at me. The Computer Science Department at the College did a great job of making me feel confident that I could pick up and learn any kind of coding language or style that I would need for the job.” 

Additionally, Sam took advantage of many opportunities as a student that prepared him to succeed in his industry such as attending career fairs and the Biz Bash, a computer science department networking event. Although he didn’t find his current position through these events, taking advantage of these opportunities gave him interviewing experience and allowed him to meet other professionals in the field. Attending these events every year also boosted his confidence in talking with advanced professionals in the industry, a skill of which came in handy when running into his past neighbor! His biggest piece of career advice is to grow and engage with your network. It just might lead to your dream job!


-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor

Student Spotlight: Kayla Kozak

Senior Kayla Kozak knew exactly what she was going to do with her career since the age of 3. All of her experiences and even her education prepared her to pursue a professional career in golf. After attending a private golf academy in high school, she signed to join University of Central Florida‘s golf team. Everything was going according to plan…until the demands of her commitments and pressure to excel made her question everything. 

Kayla decided to “restart” by transferring to CofC after her freshman year and switching her major from psychology and communication to business administration with a minor in economics. Though she turned from her lifelong dream, she discovered herself in the process. The switch to a smaller campus size allowed Kayla to engage in diverse experiences that has shaped where she is nowFor instance, her involvement in Kappa Alpha ThetaImpact X, Young Life, PRISM, club tennis, being an Econ Scholar, interning with Wild Dunes Resort, interning at Charleston Country Parks and Recreation, and her study abroad experience in Australia have all allowed her to learn more about her interests while engaging in professional development. 

Perhaps the most influential factor in her process of self-discovery is the mentorship she received through Impact X, an entrepreneurship program provided by the School of Business that brings students from different majors together to create startup companies based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Through this experience, Kayla worked with students majoring in studio art and computer science to develop a produccalled Hydro Hub, an automatic plant watering system. 

You place the device in the soil and based on soil moisture levels it will release water from the glass reservoir. It also connects to your IOT device where users can keep track of their devices and plants on our app. It is designed for travelers, those with a second home, or innovators looking to try out the latest technology.”  

Kayla and her team placed 2nd in competition out of 6 teams and won a monetary award to invest in the product. This experience contributed to her confidence in her career search, and she considers it to be the most substantial experience in her undergraduate career. What she learned through this experience has impacted the direction of her career. 

I learned in starting a business that in order to be a good leader you have to practice active listening and keep your eye on the big picture. My leadership style has changed to one where I observe gaps in the process, manage deadlines, and serve as the spokesperson for the group. You get out what you put in. If you are the silent person, you will get by, but if you take initiative, you will thrive and learn more about yourself.” 

In the process of self-discovery through Impact X and other campus involvement, Kayla has decided to pursue a career in businesses that have client facing roles with team building responsibilities. In fact, she has secured a position with PepsiCo/Frito Lay as a Supply Chain Associate where she will assist with individual and team development while supervising others. She will have the opportunity to participate in various components of project management while solving operational issues. She will also have exposure to various departments within the company to gain deeper company understanding and increase in responsibility.

Although she did not pursue a professional career in golf like she had always imagined, Kayla has discovered her true interests and has set herself up to succeed in her future career.


-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor