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A lot of people applying to Viterbi wonder what extracurriculars they’ll be able to get involved with when they come to USC. So I figured now that I’m nearing the end of my 4 years here and (likely) not joining anything else, I’d list off what I’ve done here and how I got involved! Something I want to emphasize is that unlike how it might feel in high school, you don’t need to be involved in everything under the sun. In fact, you probably shouldn’t be. I’ve tried to focus on having just a few main involvements—one academic, one social, and one athletic.


  1. Academic: Research! I’m a research assistant with Dr. Carlsson’s group, studying optimization methods for vehicle routing problems—specifically, routing fleets of vehicles to a number of locations. It’s really interesting stuff! These types of problems can be really computationally difficult to solve, so people studying operations research are always trying to find new ways to get better solutions faster. I got involved with this by just emailing Dr. Carlsson after taking ISE-330 with him (my favorite ISE class!).
  2. Social: Phi Delta Theta! I’ve met some of my best friends and made some of my favorite memories through my fraternity. And I’ve also gotten some good experience being Alumni Chair and Vice President there, too.
  3. Athletic: Club Volleyball! Even though I’m not playing anymore, I had a great time earlier in school with the team, and it was a great way to get some exercise and clear my mind. We practiced twice a week year-round, and in the spring, we traveled to play tournaments at other schools in southern California, in places like Santa Barbara and San Diego. Definitely gonna miss those weekends!


One last thing I’ll highlight is that these aren’t all engineering related.  I think it’s really important to have outlets outside school to get out of the engineering/schoolwork headspace. It often makes for a more enjoyable college experience, makes you a more well-rounded person, and overall helps keep you sane!

Derek Jones