We’re traveling the country to connect Columbia talent to West Coast tech firms

By Syndhia Javier, Employer and Alumni Relations

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to the West Coast to connect with employers interested in hiring at Columbia. I learned more about what employers are looking for in candidates and to heard their reasons for why students should consider the West Coast.

During the trip, I was able to connect with several leaders in the tech space and learn more about how the industry is expanding and exactly which candidates they target.

The West Coast Is More than San Francisco (Or Why You Should Consider Seattle)

When considering your future job, it’s essential to think about not only what you want to do, but also where you want to do it. A key component in that process is assessing where the main hubs for your industry are in terms of location. 

We know that many of our students and alumni are open to the idea of working and living on the West Coast. However, we also know that students primarily consider the Bay area when making plans to move out west.

Based on industry trends and conversations with employers, the Employer and Alumni Relations team started wondering if students weren’t maybe missing out on other West Coast cities by solely focusing on San Francisco. 

Seattle is home to some of our largest partners, such as Microsoft and Amazon, and Google and Facebook are currently opening offices in the area.  If you’re seeking to enter the tech space, Seattle continues to attract more companies, both large and small, and is a great city for you to consider. 

Size (And Culture) Matter: 3 Things to Consider for tech 

During the trip, I spoke to both Amazon and Microsoft. Besides being able to tour their campuses, I also gained insight into some things they are seeing internally and in the growth of the industries.

View of the inside of Amazon spheres

1.) Culture is not just a buzzword: Company values inform the hiring process 

While the work of software developers still needs to be done, employers continued to emphasize the importance of students understanding and evaluating the best cultural fit for themselves.

Companies are telling you who they are in the interview process. As a candidate, you need to be listening to those cues. Check out Microsoft’s campus here and  Amazon’s 14 principles, these resources provide key insights into what the companies are looking for.  

2.) All industries are affected by technology 

As we had observed during the NRF conference, the impact of technology on industries from healthcare to retail is only growing. In Seattle, I was able to visit Amazon’s first brick and mortar “man-less” store and observe how the technology trends were being played out in real life. The move towards brick and mortar stores without employees reflects a desire to preserve what’s familiar to an online market, maintaining a physical presence while still allowing a company to cut costs.

This trend toward looking for the most cost-effective solution is appearing in industries across the board. New Engen, a smaller organization, is currently automating the advertising space. The days of “madmen” creating pitches in person is transitioning to a more automated and streamlined process that is making the most of an intersection between advertising and tech.

3.) Data: Don’t just say you can do something; prove it

Everyone needs to be able to showcase their impact. The need to manipulate data, and be comfortable with not only telling your story but also proving impact, is ever-important. Across organizations, it’s important to know what data is being collected, why they’re collecting it, and how it will be used to make better decisions. As a candidate, understanding this framework can help you present your work with an understanding of what they are looking for and how you can be best aligned. 

The Employer and Alumni Relations team will be taking employer outreach trips and sharing insights with you as they come. Keep an eye out for more in the In The Know blog.

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