USC Viterbi student finds her calling in computer science and business

Adena Bauer co-founded Spark USC, a group that helps students collaborate on entrepreneurial projects and tap into their creativity

April 28, 2016 Kathleen Concialdi

Adena Bauer never thought she would major in engineering — she came to USC from the Bay Area to study business.

Bauer spent her first semester here as a business major, then realized she was looking for something more. The student eventually found it in the computer science and business administration program in the Department of Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, where she’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Students who meet the admissions requirements of both USC Viterbi and the USC Marshall School of Business are jointly able to pursue a degree in this area.

“My dad used to be a software engineer, but I never had any desire to get into it myself,” Bauer said.

The USC spark

The intersection of computer science and business has been good for Bauer. In 2013, she co-founded Spark SC, a council of student organizations who meet to socialize, network and collaborate on entrepreneurial projects. Spark SC’s mission is to help students tap into their creativity and connect across communities.

The Spark SC groups consist of engineering students, business students and communications students, among others. Students are members of groups like Lavalab, which brainstorms and produces ideas for inventions; Corpus Callosum, which unites artists and engineers through at workshops; Design for America, where students apply design thinking to local community issues; and 3D4E, a 3-D printing group.

In line with their mission of fostering a culture of innovation, Spark SC created the entrepreneurial 1,000 Pitches competition. The event was open to students in the fall of 2015 — the top 10 pitches won $1,000 — to “prove that anyone can have an idea.”

Bauer is most proud of the startup career fairs founded and run by Spark SC. In a field that sees much of its talent leave USC and go to the Bay Area, Bauer said, “At the last fair, 40 USC students were hired at local LA startups.”

Google it

This year, Bauer became USC’s Google ambassador, helping students who will be interning or going to work for the technology titan get acclimated to its environs.

If a student is hired to work at Google, Bauer is one of the first people her or she will see. If the company seems like an unreachable goal by many, Bauer offered hope that it’s not as unattainable as it may seem.

Her best advice to students who want to work for Google, she said, “is not to let the idea that Google is ‘too hard to get in to’ get in the way of applying.”

Google looks for people who are “Googley” — driven, smart, friendly and in search of a challenge.

“Everyone has a shot,” Bauer said, “so work hard, seek out opportunities and give it your all.”