We recently welcomed our October cohort of Autism Advantage data analyst students, a group of autistic adults being trained for well-meaning careers in Silicon Valley and beyond. Although last week was the just the first week of the six-week cohort group, our students are already tackling data sets, practical skills training, and are engaging companies throughout the tech sector.
On Friday, we recapped our first week by bringing together both alumni and newly-enrolled students for an afternoon visiting the corporate headquarters of eBay. In addition to a tour of the campus and a briefing on eBay in general, our Autism Advantage students spent time with two of eBay’s data scientists to learn how the company applies data to improve the experience for both its customers and its team members. eBay team member Jessica Sweeney helped us arrange our visit as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Data scientists Dr. Rebecca Carter and Dr. Katie Meger walked our Autism Advantage students through several data applications utilized by eBay. One engagement that students particularly enjoyed was spotting which parts of the eBay homepage were static and which sections were populated by data-driven algorithms. Doctors Carter and Meger even walked students through their own personalized eBay home pages to show how data is able to show visitors items which may interest them. “That large power tool may surprise you,” said Dr. Carter pointing at an electric drill populated on her customer page. “However, my husband and I love renovating our kitchen, which is why that shows up on my screen. That’s the type of item I am likely to buy.”
As both women work with eBay’s people teams, they also explained how eBay uses data to enhance the employee experience while retaining talent. As a large, Silicon Valley company, tech startups are at times acquired by the e-commerce platform company. During the session, eBay’s data scientists were able to show how they use data to predict employee retention in those cases. That allows eBay to develop strategies to ensure that it is able to retain highly-skilled talent when their companies merge.
In addition to presentations by eBay, Autism Advantage used the opportunity to have one of our alumni present data sets to our current set of students and eBay employees. We’ve begun to do that during each of our company visits as it models for students the progress they can expect to make in the program and models for companies the breadth of autistic talent in Silicon Valley.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. If your company is in the Bay Area and is planning an employee event for this month, let us know. One of the ways our Autism Advantage students grow is by seeing the practical work of industry colleagues. We’d love to arrange a visit. Simply email Jack at: firstname.lastname@example.org.