Stanford Students Interview Redfin (Not the Other Way Around)

Redfin just wrapped up its first big day of on-campus recruiting, in Palo Alto. Since we didn’t actually reserve a room on Stanford’s campus, this involved sitting in a café for nearly seven hours straight and guzzling hot chocolates made from asphalt by surly French baristas.

Listening to the students’ poised recitation of accomplishments in robot-programming competitions and other obscure academic Olympics, it was hard not to think of my own summers spent mowing lawns and washing dishes, and my post-collegiate ambition to get a girlfriend, and to work in a climate-controlled facility (I became a bike messenger).

We met a national chess champion, a drum major, a fencer, an entrepreneur starting her second company, an Israeli diplomat, the daughter of a Mongol shepherd, a documentary film aficionado and, most tragically, a one-time vegetarian now addicted to Jack in the Box.

One student wore a nice little suit. Everyone else came in shorts, or a baseball cap turned backwards, or sandals (but not without explaining that he would have worn socks if any had been clean). Of course, one of us was wearing a t-shirt, so we could hardly complain.

We asked the students how they liked school, and instead of seeming beaten down by the question as a Berkeley student would, they all brightened up. We offered to buy them a warm drink bKareem in Airplaneut several insisted on paying, furrowing their brow kindly at my slowly drawn wallet.

And then we tried to ask about their classes, but instead they asked us: how will we attract customers to our site, when do we expect to make profits, which investors are supporting us? It made me feel like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in “Airplane,” accosted by a nine-year old about his defense against the Celtics.

Finally at 6:15, we finished up. On the drive along 101, in a borrowed Suzuki Samurai whose door handle drooped down halfway home, we compared notes. My colleague, Sasha Aickin, himself a terrifyingly precocious Stanford graduate, an award-winning documentary film-maker and an aspiring cookbook author, said the students seemed pretty good. They were ok, I mumbled. “For Stanford students, I mean.”

Truth be told, you were all wonderful. If there are any of you at Stanford or elsewhere whom we missed, especially in the often-overlooked liberal arts, let us know. We had a really nice time talking to you all and would have enjoyed it even more if we hadn’t had to listen to ourselves say the same things over and over again.

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