Due to COVID-19, the URx Community saw firsthand the difficult decisions of some employers cancelling their internship programs. URx wanted to still provide students with an opportunity to gain professional development knowledge and skills over the summer. That’s why we created the Talent Development Program.
In total, we hosted 19 different professional development workshops and sessions from companies of Airbnb, Salesforce, Datadog, Databricks, Roblox, Figma, IMC, and more. These sessions helped around 2,500 students to prepare for the Fall recruitment season.
We chatted with our some of our own URx Community members in charge of organizing the Talent Development Program, Kathleen Merto, and Kimmy Lac, to learn more about their efforts putting together the program for students who were affected by COVID-19.
URx: What were some goals for the program?
Kathleen: “Due to COVID-19, we wanted to provide students, especially those who lost their internships this summer, with an opportunity to gain professional development knowledge and skills over the summer.”
URx: What was your favorite or most rewarding part of the program?
Kathleen: “Favorite part seeing students from all over the world tune in. Most rewarding part was getting students in front of our employers.”
Kimmy: “It was really cool getting to see students like myself getting help from such amazing companies. A lot of my friends have told me they’ve had a difficult time finding jobs and internships so I can understand how frustrating it may be to get hired during such a crazy time in everyone’s lives. I’m so glad I got to be a part of helping students on their professional journeys!”
URx: What are plans for the Talent Development Program in the future?
Kathleen: “Now that we have a solid student population, we hope to provide more resources through our LinkedIn Student group (AMAs and tips and tricks from our employer partners) and will host the program again in Summer 2021.”
Kimmy: “With the URx for Students LinkedIn Group, we’re going to be continuing our efforts to keep supporting students. I’m really excited to connect with students like myself who are also interested in furthering their professional development.”
We were also to talk to some of our students asking about their personal experience with the Talent Development Program too. Philippe Côté-Morneault is a 4th-year Software Engineering student at Polytechnique Montreal, an engineering university in Montreal, studying software engineering and had an internship lined up this summer that got cancelled due to COVID-19.
URx: Philippe, what made you choose Software Engineering?
Philippe: “I always enjoyed tinkering with computers, so majoring in Software Engineering was a natural choice for me. I have also been interested in finance ever since I started actively following news. By combining these two interests of mine, I have concluded that a career as a software engineer at a Fintech or finance firm would suit me best!”
URx: How did you find out about the Talent Development Program? What made you want to attend?
Philippe: “During the summer before my senior year, I started to feel the pressure to start looking for full-time roles. I spent a lot of time doing research about existing Fintech and finance companies that would fit my interests. One of the firms I was interested in, IMC Trading, was tagged in one of URx’s LinkedIn post concerning their Talent Development Program. Since IMC Trading was going to be giving a tech talk for URx’s Talent Development Program, I became interested in what URx was and what their Talent Development Program was. I quickly learned how awesome URx was and that they were hosting plenty of other tech talks and sessions with other great companies! I thought that this was a great way to learn more about the technical challenges these companies deal with daily and how working with them must be like.”
URx: What sessions did you attend and what did you take away?
Philippe: “I attended quite a lot of talks hosted by URx and really enjoyed the experience! Here are some of the talks I attended:
‘Gotta Go Fast: Speed at IMC‘. This talk was amazing! A software engineer and hardware engineer presented many challenges that come with being a Market Maker. I learned how latency was important, how data is sent over various exchanges and how to handle millions of trades per day.
‘Technical Interviewing with NetApp‘. This talk was great to learn how to prepare for technical interviews! Five NetApp employees who have conducted interviews in the past shared many tips to be successful when interviewing at tech companies. The biggest takeaway from this talk is that soft skills are as important as technical skills.
‘Tech Talk with Bose‘. This talk was unique since mechanical and software engineers were present. They showed us how software and mechanical engineering sometimes must go hand in hand when it comes to designing great products!
‘New College Grad Panel with Nextdoor, Datadog, Cloudera, and Databricks‘. This talk was quite fun since we had software engineers from four companies. I learned how to get used to working at a new company and how to become productive quickly. The four engineers also gave many tips on how to work with various teams and dealing with multiple deadlines.”
Other students who participated were able to share their experiences about the Talent Development Program as well.
Iris Guo, a student at University of Waterloo, says that “I have attended a few sessions from the URx Talent Development Program and I gained a lot of valuable knowledge about different companies’ cultures. I also improved my resume, job searching strategies, and interview skills. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking to upskill themselves!”
Mariela Hernandez, a senior at UC Berkeley, stated that “I really enjoyed the URx Talent Development Program because the events were catered to providing students with an opportunity to engage with and learn more from company individuals. The URx team really worked on ensuring attendees were able to ask questions and learn more. I appreciate the team for being so helpful in responding to messages through social media and for creating the space to learn more in an intimate way, even if it was virtual!”
Deborah Mepaiyeda at Ryerson University said “My favourite session was the one with Alexa Shoen called ‘Navigating the COVID-19 Job Search.’ It served as a great reminder that everything will be alright and of the importance of having a plan to help ease the job search process. It also better positioned me and since then, I have been able to secure interviews with different companies.”
If you would like to watch all the Talent Development Program videos, head to talentboard.io.
If you are an employer and would like to get involved, contact us here.