This past week was the big hiring/demo day for Zipfian Academy where we presented our projects to a number of companies seeking data scientists. Zipfian’s hiring day is a lot like Hackbright’s career day. So the nice thing about going through it was that I knew what to expect.
Sixteen companies attended hiring day which was a great turnout, and I was thankful there wasn’t another 9 because talking to 16 was still exhausting. Some companies were hiring their first data scientist who would build the strategic direction as well as put it into action. While other companies have teams that they want to grow. So there was a mix of start-ups to large organizations.
In the morning, each company gave a 1 minute introduction on who they were and what they were looking for. Then all the students presented 3 minutes each on our individual projects. We used slides and did a very brief overview or our project goal, approach, results and next steps. We broke for lunch and then we did the speed interviewing like we did at Hackbright. Each company had a table and the students would rotate around. We were given 7 minutes to talk and the conversations varied based on the company and what they were looking for.
Preparation was really focused on reviewing company bios as well as putting together project presentations to explain what we did. Zipfian drilled us on those presentations. They had us draft them the week before and run through them a few times with lots of great feedback. It was tough to go through when there was so much else going on, but it was very valuable to get us in shape and clear on our project story. We also worked on putting together bios for the companies as well as received bios about the companies who were attending.
During the day, I went with my previous experience of asking questions about the company, roles they were hiring for, culture and tools they use. A few companies asked technical questions and/or specific questions about my project. I also got questions about my background and what role I was looking for.
Afterwards, I changed my approach from my last time through this of sending emails immediately. Partly because I needed a breather and took a day off from school the day after to handle a number of errands that had piled up. Also, because it was nice to let the experience percolate.
Zipfian & HB Comparison:
The speed interviewing was pretty much the same except having the students rotate and consolidating the project demos to just one presentation. I really appreciated not having to repeat my project spiel more than once, and it kept the individual conversations more authentic (vs. rehearsed speech). That also gave more time to get to know the companies.
On the whole, I felt more comfortable the second time around because I actually knew many of the companies and have a broader picture of the community. There were a few people there that knew and/or worked with some of my fellow Hackbright alums and friends. One of the coolest six degrees was that one of the representatives was at the hardware hackathon where my team built the Arduino car. It gave us something else to talk more about and removed some of the awkward getting to know you process. So even though I didn’t know the people directly, they didn’t all feel like complete strangers to me.
To clarify, I wouldn’t have felt that way at all if I hadn’t gone through Hackbright and all the stuff in the last year. It really set the stage for me to have a better perspective on the hiring day experience.
It is still a very long day and everyone (students and company reps) said the same. Still after it was all said and done, a few of the students who were still around went out for ice cream which was definitely a good way to wrap that day.
One week left for Zipfian and next week is interview prep.