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.
Last week, Autism Advantage brought together both alumni and newly-enrolled students for an afternoon in Menlo Park visiting Pivotus Ventures. Through our visit, we learned how the innovative company is disrupting the traditional banking space to improve services for customers. Over the past 10 years, have spent billions of dollars moving people toward online and mobile banking. While this method has provided many conveniences, Pivotus recognized that this shift has left a customer service gap which the market hasn’t addressed yet.
Our trip to Pivotus was eye-opening. We learned that Pivotus is helping financial institutions to position themselves to meet various customer expectations. Specifically, their platforms are helping reintroduce the personal banker experience back into the equation in order to increase customer transactions and customer satisfaction. One of the ways Pivotus is doing this is by leveraging a software platform that Tinderizes the search for a personal banker and allows a central point of contact for all one’s banking needs.
Chief Product Officer Soren Bested took the Autism Advantage students and graduates through a deep dive into how their product will revolution the banking experience by reintroducing personal relationships and trust into virtual banking. He shared his experience with moving to America and the profound effect his personal banker had made in his own life.
Oren Goldsmidt, President of Pivotus Ventures, shares with Autism Advantage students the Pivotus “Flash Presentation” wall. The wall is used by employees who give brief, five-minute presentations on topics they love. Our students and staff loved the concept so much that we plan to incorporate the practice into our October cohort as a way of strengthening the presentation skills of our students while allowing them to share topics they love.
Our Autism Advantage team then met with Oren Goldsmidt, President of Pivotus Ventures, to hear more about Pivotus’ vision of the future and how they intend to increasingly scale their products to meet future market demands. He provided an extremely insightful question-and-answer session on the topic of how and where automation can be integrated into a product whose main goal is personal connection.
Following our discussion with Oren, one of the recent cohort graduates presented data findings to Pivotus Venture employees as well as new enrollees in the Autism Advantage program. The presentation centered on the machine learning model he developed, a model which won our Autsim Advantage Hackathon to most accurately predict the success of a video game based on a provided data set. Connecting alumni, students, and private businesses is key to developing neurodiversity in Silicon Valley and beyond. We were excited to learn of Pivotus Ventures own work in innovation, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to visit with their leadership and staff.
Our October cohort of Autism Advantage data analyst students started on Monday. These are autistic adults being trained for well-meaning careers in Silicon Valley and beyond. We’re incredibly excited to welcome them.
An insight from our morning icebreaker activity: Beyond English, our students speak ASL, Ethiopian, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Nepali, and Spanish.