Here's how we doubled our headcount in a year through on-campus recruitment.

On-campus recruitment is central to our plan to grow DAS42. It makes it possible for us to access a large pool of candidates efficiently. On our most recent trip to Cornell University, four members of our team had well over 300 in-person interactions with students over two days. It is hard to imagine speaking with that many impressive candidates in a relatively short period of time through any other channel.

The team had been working hard for almost an entire year to double our headcount. Recruiting efforts in Ithaca, New York and Boulder, Colorado were launched in Fall 2018 under full support from our management team at DAS42. Having been getting more work than we could handle, we chose University of Colorado and later Cornell University as our starting points because they are fantastic applicant pools that are close to our two main offices, Denver and New York. We also have alumni from both schools, who have been through the process of on-campus hiring at their respective alma maters. Their knowledge of the ins and outs of recruitment on those campuses has been the cornerstone of our success so far.

We wanted to recruit more heavily from universities for a few reasons, the most essential being that campuses are some of the only places we can chat face-to-face with hundreds of qualified applicants in a matter of hours. This kind of efficiency allows us to interact with a relatively large number of people by sending a relatively small envoy.

Besides the aforementioned operational benefits of hiring at universities, the process of promoting our company to students has turned out to be a great opportunity for team-building. We have taken advantage of the extra time we spend together on campus to get to know each other better.

Who Do We Think We Are?

Once we justified our investment in university recruitment, we thought about why the opportunities we offer would be appealing to students. For a student that is looking for their first job out of college, what are the most appealing things about a company like ours?

As a company, we are proud to offer students some of the most challenging work available. A portfolio of industry-defining clients means that we are often brought in to help solve problems that have not been understood well before. With access to a diverse pool of clients, each team member has the opportunity to experience multiple workplaces, build relationships with clients across various industries, and learn new sets of tools.

Outside of projects, it is just as easy for us to start learning new technologies or take on different responsibilities. We foster a culture of continuous learning by encouraging our team to pursue certification programs offered by esteemed companies such as Looker, Snowflake, Databricks, AWS, and Google Cloud. These certifications make us more competitive not only as DAS42 employees, but also as knowledge workers in general. In addition to studying for different certifications, taking part in recruitment (getting meta here), writing blog posts (even more meta) and going to conferences are just a few examples of how the team gets involved in activities that help build our company’s presence.

It is hard to talk about who we are without bringing up our culture. A hundred different people will give you a hundred different definitions of company culture, but we believe our company culture is built by how our people consistently behave under different circumstances. We believe in the power of a friendly, supportive, and collaborative work environment. To exemplify this point (and to get meta again), what you are reading right now is the result of dozens of edits from a handful of our people. Everyone accepted a last-minute request to go through and comment on this blog post. We think this is the kind of environment that inspires camaraderie, hard work, and ownership.

Recruitment Events

Our next step was to think of ways to market ourselves. In addition to the tools we have come to rely on such as LinkedIn and Handshake (which can be thought of as LinkedIn for colleges), there are a few types of events that make it easier for us to reach more students. As powerful as remote collaboration tools are, we all agree that there is something powerful about face-to-face interactions through recruitment events; they tell us so much more about our students than cover letters, resumes and even in-person interviews. As a result, we ensure that candidates each have 3-4 different opportunities to interact with our team before they even have their first formal interview. Out of the events we have hosted so far, our favorites are information sessions, career fairs, receptions, and one-on-one coffee chats.

Information sessions are the company’s favorite for a few reasons: they let us focus on what we love about the company, allow students to share questions they have, and give us an excuse to order hundreds of burritos. Although we have accompanying slides at info sessions, they more closely resemble panel discussions than lectures because we want to keep them interactive for a group of people who already sit through hours of lectures every day. This format helps us offer a holistic view of what it’s like to work at DAS42 by sharing the perspectives of multiple teammates, each of whom enjoys working with us in their own way.

How Your Team Can Hire More University Graduates

At every conference we go to, similar-sized companies have expressed that they are always looking for more efficient ways of hiring university graduates. A few things have worked very well for us.

Identify a Fit: Since we do not have a dedicated hiring team, it was crucial for us to identify which schools had the right programs that could be good fits for our companies. For example, the Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado Boulder and the Engineering School at Cornell University have courses that equip students with the skill set and mindset that help them excel on our team. Additionally, having alumni from both schools made getting started at these schools easier since we already had existing relationships and knowledge of the recruitment process there.

Get to Know Who’s On Campus: Our team loves interacting with departments and organizations on campus because they always give us the best insights. At the University of Colorado Boulder, we became a very close partner and friend of the MSBA (Master’s in Business Analytics) program. The program’s wonderful staff have helped us refer students, plan events and advertise job postings. Under their guidance and support, we hired 10% of the MSBA program’s graduating class last year.

At Cornell University, the career offices and student organizations such as Theta Tau Professional Fraternity, the Information Science Student Association, and the Society of Women Engineers have also been tremendously helpful. We like the people at these organizations on a personal level. As a result, working with them has always been effortless for us. Getting to know these different groups can be likened to salting the water before you cook pasta: it’s not necessary, but it makes everything much better.

Closing Thoughts

DAS42 loves on-campus recruitment. We love it because it benefits the company tremendously, but more importantly, we feel involved in the self-actualization of the students we meet throughout the hiring process. The satisfaction of helping smart people find work that they enjoy at DAS42 serves as a constant reminder of why we feel proud to be a part of our company.