CSE senior values leadership, connection, and male allyship in the industry

Computer science student values processes—both technical and interpersonal

Student groups at the University of Minnesota are a great place to make friends, develop interpersonal skills, and find a place within the community—and College of Science and Engineering (CSE) senior Darin Phlork has done just that. 

In the last four years, he has joined several organizations on the Twin Cities campus including the Science and Engineering Student Board (SESB) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)—and gained interpersonal skills such as how to mentor and empower others. Phlork spent a year as vice president of SESB, during which the group earned the 2023 Excellence in Academics Award at the Tony Diggs Excellence Awards and Student Group Leadership Program Celebration, as well as the excellence award in the Student Organization category at the CSE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Showcase.

As president of SESB, Phlork was awarded the 2024 President’s Student Leadership & Service Award (PSLSA), which recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota.

He reflects—in both the Q&A and video below—on his time as a CSE student in computer science and the next chapter of his life.

How did you pick your major? 

Before coming to college, I had never worked with code before. I was always inspired by software developers and after taking the first intro course, I really enjoyed the freedom and the creativity that comes with working in computer science. I like how involved it is with so many other industries, which gives me a lot of opportunities to make the most impact with my degree. 

Tell us about your experience in CSE student groups.  

Being a part of student groups like SESB and SWE, has given me opportunities to meet other people within the college. 

As president of SESB or the Science and Engineering Student Board, I've really learned a lot about what it's like to manage a team and understand some business aspects of a student group. Additionally, learning how to resolve conflict, whether that be internal or external, and learning how to handle it professionally. 

As a HeForSWE Committee Co-Director with the Society of Women Engineers, I've learned a lot about what it's like to be a woman in STEM, about how women have such different experiences compared to men, and I’ve been able to recognize my privilege in the industry and focus on using my platform to empower others.

How has being at CSE helped prepare you for your future?

When I think about how CSE has prepared me for my future, it's very evident that I’ve gained the engineering and science tools that I'll need in industry, and also more professional and interpersonal skills through my student group involvement.  Specifically, I've learned so much about the value in processes and taking into consideration other people's experiences and concerns in order to maximize success.  

What are your plans after you graduate?

Immediately after graduation, I'm going to take some time to travel around Europe, and it will be my first time out of the U.S. When I come back, I plan to work full-time as a software developer at Boston Scientific. I was offered the position after being a part-time intern for the last year. I'm really happy to go back to them and make such a positive impact.

In addition to that, I hope to continue my leadership pursuits in the Society of Women Engineers. With my advocacy work specifically, I'm planning on working with the national Society of Women Engineers. So far, I've set up an opportunity where I can write blog posts to share my experiences and understanding of male allyship and help to foster it in more spaces. 

Interview and photo by Katelyn Mayne