What happens when nearly 100 Udacity students from across Europe meet with 10 world-class hiring partners for an afternoon of networking, interviews and talks?
Talent meets opportunity. Or, as we decided to call it: Udacity Accelerate. Here’s a recap of the day.
🕚 11:50 The calm before the storm
Close to 100 name tags are lined up at the table at the entrance, waiting to be picked up by Udacity students seeking new opportunities. Many have interviews scheduled with one or more of Udacity’s hiring partners in the interview room next door: Audi, Bertelsmann, Bosch, Jaguar Land Rover, NVIDIA, SAP, TomTom, Zalando, and Zeiss. It’s hard to believe that they are all here, in one room. Yet here they are. Senior hiring managers and technical recruiters from all these amazing employers have come to Accelerate with a common goal: to meet (and potentially hire) our students.
Outside, snowflakes melt on cars parked out front on the river promenade. Udacity’s automotive partners brought their newest autonomous cars to show candidates first-hand what they could be working on as part of their growing autonomous tech teams.
🕛 12:15 Doors open
Students and hiring partners arrive and the venue is starting to fill up. The buffet opens, silverware clinks, and friendly strangers strike up conversations. Close to 100 Udacity students from 20 different European countries made the trip to Berlin.
I meet people from as far away as Madrid, Aberdeen or Moscow and even speak to a student who drove all night (10 hours!) from Slovenia to Berlin to be here. Talk about commitment!
Many students are prepped and ready for their pre-scheduled interviews. Others are here to introduce themselves to company representatives at the info stands and network with their peers. For many, this is the first time meeting another Udacity student in person. After countless hours of interacting online, they’re excited to put faces to names. All around me, students exchange their Udacity story to explain why they’re here today.
🕐 13:10 Pecha Kucha – Hiring Partners take the stage
Participants anxiously await each company’s lightning pitch. The Pecha Kucha-style rules are simple: 4 minutes per company, 12 slides, 20 seconds per slide and a quick hand-off to the next speaker. The first countdown starts and we’re off to the races.
Exactly 40 minutes and 10 presentations later, the final gong sounds. Students learned not only about the exciting projects they could be working on, but also gained an insight into each company’s culture and the candidates they are looking to hire.
🕑 14:11 Interviews begin!
The first group of candidates gathers in front of the doors to the interview room. Some rehearse their opening pitches, while others chat casually with their peers. One student tells a Udacity representative that their interviewer from an automotive company also happens to be a Nanodegree graduate. Another asks if it’s true that Jaguar Land Rover is conducting interviews inside their self-driving cars. My colleague winks and leaves them to find out for themselves.
🕑 14:30 Careers workshops
Nowadays, your online professional brand is critical to advancing your career. In the first careers workshop, personal branding expert Kave Bulambo from mobile bank N26 explains how to build an authentic personal brand that will impress potential employers. The second interactive session is about “Perfecting your pitch” and takes place on the main stage.
A few days after the event, I get a message from Siân, a recent Data Analyst Nanodegree program graduate from Ireland.
“I found the workshop on elevator pitches very useful,” she tells me, “in fact, actually helped me in an interview because I was able to be more concise when explaining my background.”
In total, 100 pre-scheduled interviews took place along with many informal conversations at the company stands and among peers. Later on, when I asked students about their favorite aspect of the event, many gushed about the inspiring conversations with fellow learners that gave them the feeling of being part of a big Udacity family. Several hiring partners ask about our next event and if they can double the number of recruiters.
🕕 18:15 Flying cars at the Fireside Chat...and a new Hiring Partner!
Co-Founder & Head of Flight Control of Lilium, Matthias Meiner, takes the stage. The Munich-based company is building an all-electric vertical take-off and landing jet set to power an on-demand “air taxi” service. And they are hiring. No surprise, then, that there’s a huge round of applause after Udacity’s VP of Careers, Kathleen Mullaney, announces that Lilium is Udacity’s newest hiring partner in Europe. Exciting times ahead!
🕗 20:58 Beers, cheers, and careers
As the day winds down, students, hiring partners, and Udacity employees exchange contact details over snacks and beers. Leonardo, an outgoing Italian graduate of the Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree program, toasts to a successful day. 🍻
“Udacity was decisive for me in making a career change, and the people I met today gave me new energy to push forward this crucial decision.”
The Accelerate event is coming to a close but it’s actually just the beginning: We’re confident that in a few months time, we’ll be able to tell stories of new students in jobs in Europe!
Christopher Newman manages Community Operations for Udacity
in Europe. He regularly finds that all the organizational work
this entails pays off when students and grads finally come together
and share their inspiring stories and accomplishments.