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 but 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.