Fear and Loathing on the College Recruiting Trail

The University of Washington had a big computer science job fair today. Microsoft was there. Google was there. Eight Zillovians were there, all wearing Zillow t-shirts. And Redfin was there too, wearing a T-shirt that said, “NO, we don’t compete with Zillow.” Standing in front of our bare table, I found myself wishing I had something to show, like a mobile of the planets, or a papier-mache volcano that erupted with baking soda on cue.

Our neighbor to the left, Amazon, challenged passersby with ferocious technical questions, scoring the answers on a clipboard in what at first seemed like some kind of friendly “guess-your-weight” carnival skit. Across from us, a medical imaging company decorated its table with Halloween candy and MRI’s of diseased breasts.
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Our first visitor of the day was a Green River Community college student who came by because she said we looked “lonely” at a table by ourselves. This was particularly sobering because it meant we had outlosered our neighbor to the right, Ford Motor Company, which was trying to recruit people to work in Detroit after recording one of the largest financial losses in U.S. history. I gamely tried to sell her on a job; she asked me if she had food stuck in her teeth.

Cliques of students congregated in front of our table as if we weren’t there, to see who got the most encouragement from the gods at Microsoft and Google. I felt a bit adolescent (this feeling apparently never stops coming back) standing to one side, trying to catch their attention.

But in the end, and with all the best students, we got to make our pitch: that we’re looking for people who have always been different; that we’re a still-small company trying to do something really big and really good; that we can only afford to hire a few people, so they have to be FREAKISHLY talented stars with huge hearts; that they’ll be able to connect with others in an emotionally meaningful way that may elude them for the rest of their lives; that we’ll need them and count on them as a larger company never could.

Looking at me, rocking back and forth on my heels like a spaz, the engineering students seemed convinced of, if nothing else, this last point. If you know any engineers — or any human beings at all — who fit the bill, send ‘em our way: glenn (at) redfin (dot) com.

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