NYCEDC's blog

Kicking Off Tech Talent Draft, Round 2


nyc tech draft startup panel

Over 70 students attended Tech Talent Draft's Startup Panel at Columbia University this Tuesday evening. Technology execs from six NYC startups joined Center for Economic Transformation's EVP Eric Gertler for a discussion of the various job opportunities available at their respective companies. The panelists included:

  • Sachin Devand, Chief Technology Officer at AHAlife
  • Dave Stein, Head of Development at Adobe Behance
  • Mark Wilkie, Chief Technology Officer at Buzzfeed
  • Rich Armstrong, General Manager at Fog Creek Software
  • Deepti Sharma Kapur, Founder and CEO at FoodtoEat
  • Steve Jacobs, Chief Information Officer at Gilt

During the one-hour conversation, panelists shared insights on the core qualities desired in ideal job candidates.

"We look for big brains," said Rich Armstrong of Fog Creek Software. "We want people who are fun to work with and also know computers down to the metal."

So, how does one pass the test? 

Fog Creek gives its applicants a collaborative coding exercise to see how potential developers work with others while solving a problem. For example, Fog Creek might ask an interviewee to build a crossword puzzle and then use the product as a point of discussion with others afterwards. 

fog creek startup panel

Passion and cultural fit are other important qualities that companies consider when hiring. 

"Don't be shy about putting "offbeat" interests on your resume," said Deepti Sharma Kapur, founder of FoodtoEat, in response to a student's question about the type of extracurricular activities that should be included on a resume. "We want to hear about your bitcoin operation." 

AHAlife CTO Sachin Devan says his company hosts a weekly Thursday happy hour to foster camaraderie among employees. 

"We want people to live life to the fullest," he said. "And that starts with our own employees."

While the majority of Tuesday's featured companies are looking specifically for tech talent, openings exist in other areas as well, including marketing, data analytics, and operations. David Walker, co-founder of Suitey, a technology-enabled real estate brokerage firm, has positions in marketing and back-end development available, in addition to several internships. 

"We're looking for people who are passionate about building software that affects the real world," Walker said. His team is small and works closely together in an open layout. "Everyone has input on everything. We have a lot of group high-fives. It's a lot of fun."

The panel concluded with a patriotic reminder of why New York City is the best place to live and work. Several panelists mentioned the accessibility and diversity of industries. Still, others insisted on New York City's intangible qualities. 

"New York is not where we are," Armstrong said. "It's who we are." 

Are you a student interested in learning more about NY tech? Apply to ten NYC startup companies at once with the Tech Talent Draft Common App. The Round 2 application deadline is February 12. 



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