Applying a Computer Science Major to Practical Work: What I Learned in 10 Weeks at a Tech Start-Up

Jesse Berliner-Sachs shares his experience as a Development and Operations intern at HiredScore. Jesse joined the team for the summer of 2017 before returning to study for his B.S.E. in Computer Science and B.A. in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

From my first day at the HiredScore office in downtown Tel Aviv, one thing was immediately clear: studying computer science and working in tech are two completely different fields. I might be able to describe Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm, but if I can’t push changes to Github how can I contribute to the team? Bridging that divide between education and practice can be difficult, but that is exactly what made my Internship at HiredScore, the team I worked with, and the work I did so meaningful. The HiredScore Engineering team worked to give me projects that utilized what I had learned in school and applied those skills to solve real challenges the company faced.

Given our Fortune 500 client base, one such challenge was the amount of time key Engineering Leaders spent filling out new client Information Security questionnaires, which was a time-consuming manual process. To reduce the time spent on repetitive parts of this task and create a way for our internal team to easily and securely access the company’s Information Security FAQs, I developed an in-house secure database called “Camel Search”, an internal web application that contained our responses to past Info Sec questions in an easily searchable format. This task required me to use technologies I knew well such as Python with Flask and JavaScript, as well as learn new skills like OAuth authentication and Solr. The task allowed me to apply my knowledge to a practical and useful project, it gave me the opportunity to learn new skills along the way, and beyond that, I was able to see the real impact my work had on the team.

The memory which has stuck with me the most from my time at HiredScore was not the interesting projects I got to be a part of, or the fun business lunches we’d have in Tel Aviv, but instead the people I worked with and specifically how they wanted me to grow and improve over the summer. Every task I worked on was designed as much to develop my skill set as it was to help the company. While the startup culture is by nature fast-paced and rigorous, I never felt left behind. The Israeli culture is one where you are expected to speak up and say what you want. This summer taught me the importance of asking for help and being vocal in my opinions. Whenever I was stuck on something, I knew I could reach out to my mentors and never be seen as a bother. Whenever I felt something wasn’t being done in the best way I felt confident in sharing my opinion.

I began my summer at HiredScore with no knowledge of what it was like to work at a tech startup or how to practically use my computer science skills. I came away a better software engineer but also with a confidence to take on full projects on my own, the ability to learn new skills along the way, and the knowledge that it is ok to ask for help and state my opinions. Working at HiredScore was a great way to start my career in Tech.

 

Why Am I Excited to Join HiredScore?

TL;DR; The right problem, the right market, the right team and the right reason…

Talk to people about the keys to building a successful company and you will quickly reach the inevitable topic of employees. Which begs the question: If employees are so important, how is it that the recruitment process is so unstructured, unmeasurable and sadly biased in many cases?

Think of the last time you recruited someone. Try to reverse engineer the process from job posting to screening to interviewing to the final offer and ask yourself two kinds of questions about each step:
Why did I…? How can I assess…?

  • Why did I choose to use this specific wording when I posted the job?
  • How can I assess if the job post will yield the candidates I’m looking for?
  • Why did I pick that person from a pile of 50 CVs while screening?
  • How can I assess the quality of my screening?
  • Why did I ask those specific questions, and not others, in the initial phone interview?
  • How can I assess the quality of my phone interview conclusion?
  • Why did I reject this candidate?
  • How can I assess the quality of my decision?

Well if your answer to all the question above starts with “HMMMMMMMM” you’re not alone. Continue Reading ›