Innovation, Tech Trends, Career Insights
As a leader in the industry that collects a wide range of data from employees, we ensure the information is safe with us.
Say you met a technologist at a hackathon and want to connect with the person more. Instead of exchanging business cards like before, you’ll likely pull out your phone and exchange information digitally.
From LinkedIn profiles, Instagram usernames, hometown, and family relationships to mentions in articles from years ago, the internet and digital world do not erase one’s footprints in most cases.
With all information and data becoming digitalized in the 21st century, it’s time to utilize them in a way that’s never been done before. Data is not just your social media photo or where you went for vacation; it can be numbers and confidential information from financial to hospital records.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Xiaojing W., our Distinguished Engineer who advocates for data privacy and user-respectful interactions. She shared with us some ways she keeps applications safe and secured at ADP.
Why Data Privacy is important
By Xiaojing W., Distinguished Engineer
On September 7, 2017, a consumer credit reporting agency announced that it had breached the data of approximately 143 million U.S. consumers, including customers’ names, dates of birth, social security, driver’s license, and credit card numbers. These incidents resulted in a loss of consumer trust, therefore, future business opportunities.
ADP takes pride in building applications that put customers’ privacy first with holistic security and privacy practices. In fact, our Chief Data Officer developed a holistic privacy framework instilling the privacy culture and centrally managing the practices in daily data operations.
Here are some of our methods:
When it comes to creating a trusting experience for users, we have five best practices to share:
With over 1M clients (about the population of Delaware in the United States), ADP pays more than 38M workers worldwide (about the population of California in the United States), and just in the US alone, we reach nearly 20% of the private US workforce.
As a leader in the industry that collects a wide range of data from employees, we make sure the information is safe with us. At the same time, we pay attention to the design process, ensuring a safe, user-friendly experience for everyone involved.
Here are five design patterns for creating user-respectful and privacy-aware interactions:
Tech Trend: All about Data
Data is always changing, which means more people want ways to keep their information private. This has led to the development of new techniques that preserve user information in large datasets.
Here are four types of technologies that are getting attention in the industry:
You may ask, how does the new landscape in data privacy change our product design thinking?
To better understand our clients and the needs of their employees, we must have a comprehensive view of who they are (i.e., profile data) and what they do, and how that impacts their day-to-day (i.e. behavior).
By following HBR‘s new data privacy rules, our products will empower users with trustworthy technology solutions.
Our private permissioned blockchain also safeguards highly sensitive personal data while simultaneously allowing individuals complete control. This innovative technology enables ADP to craft new products and services that benefit employees and clients.
Data privacy isn’t the Privacy Officers’ job; it’s a collective responsibility. As engineers who are often tasked with the technical aspects of securing sensitive data, we must understand the landscape of privacy-enhancing tools and technologies.
Keep in mind that we must stay up to date with the changes in the data industry as our users trust us with their information. Taking care of the trust and protecting the data should be everyone’s top priority.
#Data #DataPrivacy #WomeninStem #Automation #UserExperience
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Voice of Our People, Career Journey, Women in STEM
Click the play button below to hear from Elaina.
“Changing careers can be scary, but it was the best thing I ever did for myself. Don’t underestimate your potential!”
Criminal Minds, CSI, Mindhunter, you name it.
For those who love true crime documentaries and podcasts, you must be familiar with the role of forensic scientist – the person in a white coat analyzing evidence as the detective rushes into the lab to verify if the fingerprints match.
Meet Elaina K., a former Forensic Scientist who took a turn in her career and landed a role at ADP.
Q: Elaina, you worked as a forensic scientist before coming to ADP. How did the journey begin?
A: I worked as a forensic scientist for more than seven years. While the forensics industry is growing in the United Kingdom, it is still very niche compared to other sectors. I reached a point where I pursued everything from analytical skills to leadership experience.
Q: Many are curious about what forensic scientists do. What type of cases have you worked on previously?
A: A part of my daily routine was to analyze and research. My team pieced evidence and helped detectives on closing cases. I remember analyzing 250 kg (about 551.16 lb) of cocaine and heroin in one case!
Q: Wow! How would you describe the turning point from forensic science to working in tech?
A: Growing up, I was always interested in technology. Tracing back to my early teen years, I developed an interest in science and pursued chemistry, biology, and physics. I knew it was time for a new change. In 2016, I saw the opportunity to work as a Technical Services Manager at ADP, and I applied immediately.
Q: Incredible. It’s been six years since you started. Why do you stay?
A: The short answer is I stay for the people. I am now the Manager of Major Incident Response, providing leadership for over 900 applications, products, and services. I wake up every day knowing what I want to deliver at work. The support I receive from my family and the ADP community is beyond imagination. I am proud to work for a company that values diversity in associates’ backgrounds and cultures.
Q: That’s powerful. What does diversity mean to you and your team?
A: As a people leader of color and a female, I value the differences and invite my team to celebrate each other’s achievements in their career journeys. I also encourage my team to mark cultural holidays on their calendars.
Q: As a people leader, what message would you like to highlight?
A: Great emotional awareness of people’s feelings and excellent interpersonal skills are required. This is especially true in management. My team now comprises six associates in the US, one in the UK, one in France, one in Brazil, and three in India. Empowering and valuing every voice is the key. If associates can’t be themselves, how can managers bring the best out of them? As a leader, I ensure they can lean on me for support and guidance.
Q: What are some overlapping qualities between working as a scientist and working as a technical manager?
A: That’s a good question. First is attention to detail. As the team creates products and services, paying attention to every detail is essential as it could impact the result for both clients and associates. The second overlapping area is people management skills. I always take time to understand my team and identify when they need support.
Q: What are some of the rewarding moments?
A: I found my sense of purpose in working and helping both associates and clients at ADP. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the strength to achieve my personal goal, which I’m proud to share – I am now a homeowner!
Q: That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing. What does #ADPTech mean to you?
A: #ADPTech is innovative and cutting-edge. I love how there are always events across Business Resource Groups (BRG) supporting associates across the globe. The culture and people make me look forward to having more diverse conversations with technologists from different industries.
Q: What tech roles do you partner with?
A: So many! From Developers, SREs, SROs, Analysts, Infrastructure engineers and teams, QA Testers, VPs, Product Owners, and Application Support to Tech support teams. We partner with every ADP location from California to Melbourne.
Q: What can incoming associates expect from ADP?
A: I value career progression, and ADP provides the environment for personal growth, including resources and benefit programs. Be prepared to work with teams both in and outside of your country. Supporting one another will keep you motivated and engaged at the time!
Q: Lastly, what is one advice for technologists from a non-traditional background?
A: I am not a developer nor a coder, but I work in tech. There are roles with great opportunities that require interpersonal skills and working with people.
If you are an applicant from a non-traditional tech background, review job descriptions carefully and don’t be afraid of the titles. An opportunity to showcase skills and talents during an interview is always helpful in landing the right role!
As people slowly return to work, Elaina is excited to meet her virtual team in the future and get to know them better outside of work. She also enjoys baking every month and making chocolate cupcakes for her family and friends.
AnitaB.org Named ADP the Top Large Company for Women Technologists
ADP’s iWIN Business Resource Group sponsored GirlHacks 2022 Hackathon
The Five Key Elements of a Product Champion
Click here to search for your next move, and visit Who We Hire.
#WomeninSTEM #DE&I #Leadership #Technologists #ForensicScience
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
‘¡Bienvenidos! ¡Pase, Adelante!’ – Welcome, come on in! Feeling connected and belonging allows us to feel comfortable and bring our authentic selves.
ADP is proud to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) by recognizing the cultures and the histories Hispanic Americans contributed through generations in this country.
This year’s theme is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, which means making positive impacts together. We connected with Isabel Espina, Vice President of Product Development, WorkMarket. She’s a dog-lover, a traveler, and a leader who always focuses on paying it forward.
Here’s her lens on giving back to the community.
Moving Forward, Welcoming & Connecting: A Leader’s Journey
By Isabel Espina, VP of Product Development
Adelante, in Spanish, means to move forward. It is also commonly used to welcome someone into your place. ‘¡Bienvenidos! ¡Pase, Adelante!’ – Welcome, come on in! Latinos value family as a source of strength and protection. Welcoming others and making them feel at home is part of our DNA. The sense of family and belonging is intense and is not limited to the immediate family but the extended grandparents, cousins, friends, and friends of friends.
These families very often extend to our work families. Feeling connected and belonging allows us to feel comfortable and bring our authentic selves to the experience. ‘Estás en familia’– you are part of the family. You are safe, and we have your back. These values were core to my experience growing up.
I was born in Cuba during the height of the Castro Revolution. My parents were the first from their respective families to leave, seeking freedom of expression and opportunity. They left their homeland and family for a better life in the United States. They wanted their daughter to grow up with freedom and opportunities.
We arrived in Spain in December, a time of year meant to be joyous and surrounded by family. Instead, we were alone in a foreign country. Fortunately, we had kind neighbors who welcomed us into their homes, helped us with warm clothes, and invited us to ring in the New Year. They even showed up on January 6 (Feast of the Epiphany) with a small gift that ‘Los Reyes’ had left in their home for ‘Isa.’ This kind gesture from our Spaniard neighbors meant the world to my parents. We were not alone. We had support and felt a sense of belonging. The sense of inclusion gave us tremendous comfort.
This connection quickly grew into a community that gave us insight into navigating employment in Spain. Although we were not Spaniards, we connected to our neighbors through language, ancestry, and family values. With the help of the newly established community, we thrived in Spain and prepared ourselves for the next leg of the journey to the US.
The values ingrained in the Spanish culture of family, support, and solidarity translate directly to how we lead organizations.
ADP’s Research Institute has studied the data and developed a measure of Inclusion Measuring the ‘I’ in D-E-I. They define connection as one’s feeling of being seen, feeling heard, and feeling valued for their uniqueness. The study found that strongly connected people are 75x more likely to be fully engaged at work.
It’s been 25 years since I first came to ADP. Key to the culture here is the sense of inclusion, which is why I stay. I joined to create innovative products, and I did. Every time I hear there are millions of users now with the ADP Mobile Solutions app, I think of the days when I brought it to life with my previous team. Although the app has evolved beyond what we did, I find it rewarding to hear how much people love it today.
The more comfortable one feels with the team, the better the ideas flow. The creativity and excitement then lead to an amazing product. We must attract a workforce representative of our clients and the communities where we live and work. These communities allow us to understand and provide insights into building better products.
One way to gain a sense of community is to join and attend events sponsored by a Business Resource Group (BRG). I am an active member of Adelante, a Hispanic community that allows us to connect based on shared values. These may be direct connections because you are Latin American/Spanish or have shared interests in the music, the food, and the culture. What matters is we can come together and share in a community. I can’t think of a better way to grow one’s professional network and learn.
In the course of my time with Adelante, they invited me to do a panel to support STEM women and mentor young students. I also recently attended the Grace Hopper Celebration, where I met wonderful women technologists from diverse backgrounds working together to support each other. It was an extremely rewarding experience! I’m reminded of that sense of inclusion I felt when my family first came to the US. I’m inspired to give back to my support network.
As a technology leader, I always think about attracting great talent in this highly competitive environment. Digital transformation and advanced technologies continue to shape current and future jobs across industries. I encourage my team to grow together, meet other associates across different communities, and always support one another.
Giving back to our communities is good for not only our business but for all of us. I invite you to explore ADP and all we offer, including our BRGs. Be a role model, grow professionally, and pay it ‘Adelante.’
We look forward to continuing sharing stories from Latino and Spanish technologists.
Interested in Product Development?
Learn more about what it’s like working for ADP here and our current openings.
#nationalhispanicheritagemonth #givingback #careerjourney #productdevelopment #ADPTech
Innovation, Voice of Our People, Career Insights
Whether the virtual mentorship occurs in video conference rooms or through emails, the experience can be an invaluable tool for career growth and personal development.
Why One Should Consider Virtual Mentorship
By Steve R., Lead Major Incident Manager
It can be challenging to find time to invest in professional development in today’s ever-changing, fast-paced world. Whether you’re just starting in your career or currently working in a leadership position, we can all benefit from having guidance and support in professional life. That’s when virtual mentorship becomes helpful.
What is Virtual Mentorship?
The term “virtual mentorship” may sound like a new concept, but it simply refers to mentorship that takes place online. It allows people to connect with mentors they might not otherwise have access to, and it provides a flexible way to receive mentorship when in-person meetings are not possible. This type of mentorship can benefit both parties as the setting naturally allows for more flexibility and accessibility. Whether the mentorship occurs in video conference rooms or through emails, the experience can be an invaluable tool for career growth and personal development.
Why Consider Mentorship?
Great leaders have two extraordinary traits: an open mind and empathy towards difficult situations in teamwork. Like all ADP associates, I am encouraged to expand my skillset and strive toward self-improvement, using all the available resources and tools. This mindset has led me to participate in the mentorship program at ADP, where I met role models who demonstrated best practices at work.
Depending on the goal, mentorship may consist of a one-time consultation or multiple re-occurring sessions. An associate may also have more than one mentor over time as needs and career paths change.
I recently completed a few months’ worth of mentoring sessions with a VP from the senior leadership team at ADP. We had worked together briefly on past projects but hadn’t spent significant one-on-one time together. I learned we would be a good match for the mentor/mentee program based on the strengths that I wished to explore and her area of proven expertise. I soon initiated an informal mentoring process, and we began working towards my professional goals from there.
For those who don’t have a particular choice of mentor in mind, I recommend associates sign up for ADP’s formal mentor-matching process using MentorCliq software, a resource page consisting of a series of questions regarding mentee expectations and needs, and areas of interest.
Three Best Practices in Virtual Mentorship
Since my mentor and I were in two separate locations, we used Webex Meetings throughout the process. Through face-to-face conversations are typically preferable, the virtual setting offered a level of comfort for me.
I came prepared with discussion topics and specific questions each time we met. The virtual option vastly expands the range of choices for mentoring connections. Associates are no longer limited to mentorship choices within the same office, and there are endless opportunities for a good mentor/mentee match. The virtual option is especially beneficial for full-time associates who work from home and across different time zones.
#1 Set Timeline and Goals
The number one thing to consider is to plan for the call. My mentor and I met bi-weekly, getting familiar and discussing each other’s career paths; past, present, and future. For those who read my previous blog on my career journey, I focus on a leadership-focused career path and set my goal to be joining a part of ADP’s senior leadership team in the future. I learned from my mentor that the ADP ecosystem offers a multitude of communication-based career paths, which provide leadership opportunities. As communication is not only a strength for me but also something I enjoy, my excitement has grown, and I look forward to what lies ahead.
#2 Transparent Communication
My mentor was kind, patient, and willing to help me grow. During our virtual time together, I never felt that I had less of her attention and personal investment in the conversations. We made a professional connection, and she genuinely cared about my success, making our time together more than worthwhile. I wouldn’t say the virtual setting presented many challenges for us. If anything, it made communications more accessible and working together flexible, meaning talking about expectations and going over company resources.
#3 Listen and Be Ready to Learn
Conflict in the professional world is inevitable. During my mentorship experience, I had an instance where I had different opinions from a fellow associate. While I had consulted with my leader on the best way forward, I sought advice from my mentor. She was insightful and shared examples of similar experiences in her past.
Her understanding, empathy, and professional leadership gave me support. The input I received allowed me to consider factors that I had not before to refine the solution I’d been working on and make team communication more effective. Not only did both my team leader and mentor’s verbal feedback help me resolve the conflict, but it also led me to form a stronger bond with the other associate.
One piece of advice for future associates is to take full advantage of the mentorship program or any organic mentorship opportunities. The availability to build upon the foundation of experience led by tenured ADP associates is priceless. Simply reaching out to a leader and expressing your interest in learning and working together would be a great start.
My virtual mentorship experience has allowed me to gain insight and perspectives from my mentor leading different teams. Having the opportunity to seek out non-biased input from others is always refreshing. I look forward to leveraging my own experiences and knowledge to guide other associates, whether with career development, conflict resolution, or personal growth. When given the opportunity, I will be participating in the ADP mentorship program in the future, and next time, as a mentor!
Discover your potential and join us.
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Voice of Our People, Career Advice, Career Insights
Data Science is perfect for you if you enjoy storytelling and solving complex problems with data.
Is Data Science the Right Career for You?
By Mark P., Lead Data Scientist, Product Development DataCloud
As a Data Scientist at ADP, I use workforce data to tell stories, using curiosity to analyze and display the data. In this blog, I’ll share my observations of experiences and trends in the growing field of data science.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data science will continue to grow, and the number of jobs is estimated to increase by 28% through 2026. In other words, data scientists are in demand, and our role will continue to impact many industries.
What comes to mind when you hear “data science”? Numbers and graphs? Machine learning and big data?
Let’s dive into a quick definition.
What is Data Science?
My perspective on data science was shaped years ago. People started referring to themselves as data scientists and posting jobs for “data scientists” around the same time that machine learning with big data was spreading to industries and companies beyond tech.
I view data science as the methodical analysis of an extensive dataset to understand a subject of interest. Machine learning is a powerful means of such analysis, but not the only one. I focus on a different area, writing query code and dynamic calculations to produce interactive visualizations. To me, the significance of big data is more of a spectrum than a boundary. Science is a systematic study for understanding, and we can understand things with smaller amounts of data too. But big data like ADP has made the insights and applications deeper and more reliable.
Pragmatically speaking, data science can be whatever an employer considers it and communicates through the specific skills they seek. No definition of data science can replace an employer’s expectations, the candidate’s expression of their experience, and conversations about career fit and advancement. With evolving technologies and models, there are a growing number of opportunities in this career. As a Data Scientist at ADP, it is certainly rewarding to have occupational, organizational, and demographic facts on over 30 million US workers to explore – anonymized of course!
Top Trends in Data Science
Currently, two of the most visible trends in data science are cloud-based development and the advanced application of natural language processing (NLP).
Cloud-based platforms and services such as Amazon Web Services and Databricks make it easier to source data, develop analyses and models, collaborate with colleagues, and deploy products. We work closely with these partners and have often spurred innovation in their products as we expand our capabilities.
NLP has many current and potential applications in human capital management, including client support, occupation and skill classification, job posting development, and candidate recruitment. Since jobs are diverse, overlapping, and constantly evolving, building and maintaining comprehensive, systematic knowledge can be challenging. NLP can make our solutions more scalable and data-driven than classifications created by human experts alone.
Day in the Life as a Data Scientist
My research on restaurant employment and wages during the COVID-19 pandemic represents many common day-to-day components of data science work. While it is well-known restaurants were one of the most heavily impacted industries, ADP data shows some cities fared better than others. You can see this in the 18-month employment trends for 3 of the largest 50 US metros.
Visualizations like these are the tip of the iceberg: the most visible part of the work requires much more underneath. In addition to conceiving and developing metrics, models, and graphics to create knowledge, data scientists need to find good data sources and write code to retrieve and process their information. They need to understand the limitations of their sources – things like sample bias, predictive labels, outright errors – and communicate and correct them.
And data scientists need to query people as well as data! For example, interviewing local restaurant association executives for their expert perspectives and calling US Bureau of Labor Statistics economists to discuss statistical methods.
How can I gain experience in Data Science?
If you are interested in data science, you can find a ton of resources, including boot camps, online courses, Medium articles, and YouTube videos. If you look up #datascience on TikTok, it has 89 million views! Of course, classes are a great way to acquire vital education, but they can be a significant investment in time and money. You may wish to test your interest with a project that involves either a question you’d like to answer or a problem you’d like to solve. You’ll gain not only motivation but also a proof point to share with potential employers.
As an example, when 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang proposed a universal basic income, I was curious to know who might benefit from $1k a month and how to quantify the benefits objectively. I searched for household spending data, turned up relevant data and code from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and then used free versions of SAS and Tableau to create a public dashboard to answer that question.
I’d advise anyone interested in data science to follow their curiosity and search the web for public data and free tools. You’ll face technical challenges along the way, but sites like W3 Schools and Stack Overflow can help you tackle them as they arise. Of course, many people prefer the structure of classes to an open-ended, “many-options-no-right-answer” type of project. The former is fine – but if you can take the leap and try the latter, you’ll gain a good experience of what real-world work is often like!
Data Science is a great option if you can:
Three self-examination questions for Data Scientists interested in ADP:
Interested in a career in Data Science? Let’s work together!
Learn more about working at ADP here and our current openings.
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
“STEM, to me, is beyond degree and credentials. It’s about applying and leveraging engineering knowledge and empathy toward every product.”
Devi R. is a technologist who enjoys exploring the world and inspiring others. She joined ADP in 2020, building the ADP’s flagship MyADP with her team in Global Products & Technology. She’s been to 54 countries and all seven continents. Devi loves traveling to South Africa for natural scenery and Portugal for the history, art, architecture, and food!
Engineers build products with a purpose in mind and the goal of designing for people. I came to ADP with that mindset and found myself in a place that shares the same value.
I have been a consumer of ADP’s payroll product since 2006, so I was excited to hear about the MyADP business app project and took the opportunity right away. I thought, “I want to work on this!” It’s been two years since I came to ADP, and I’m incredibly grateful to be in a culture that values every voice.
I lead the MyADP Product SRE & DevOps teams within Global Products & Technology. For those unfamiliar with MyADP, it is a global, high traffic and volume unified UX web/mobile solution using Cloud technology. Our product is in the Top 10 business applications in the app store. Millions use the product to perform human resources, financial services, onboarding, performance management, payroll, time & attendance, benefits, retirement services, etc.
If I asked myself how my passion began, I’d say it was the endless possibilities in the field that continue to inspire me, including innovation awaiting discovery. When it comes to DevOps, I appreciate the opportunity to perform transformation across various products because it motivates me to strive for better results with my team.
Day In Life as Senior Director, DevOps
To give you an overview of my day, we get an average of between seven to 10,000 transactions every second on our product platform. My team keeps track of the error rate, meaning even 1% can be a considerable number in this user pool. The task makes my role as a technologist critical. It’s no longer about the technical skills that determine if someone is qualified; instead, it’s about empathy for what one is building.
Behind every product my team makes, we understand there are real users and the real impact the product brings to their lives. As a technologist, I make sure the technology is practical and human-centered. With a large amount of data and information, I am proud to say we handle data with security, precaution, and care. We use the data to help people, making user privacy our top priority.
STEM, to me, is beyond degree and credentials. It’s about using engineering knowledge and empathy toward every product. I stay at ADP, where I surround myself with associates who value client feedback and user experience.
Women in STEM
With various tech roles in the industry, I recommend young technologists invest in education and explore as many options as possible in life. The field continues to evolve and challenge the leaders with innovation, changes, and automation.
All the elements above make working as a woman technologist meaningful. I remember serving as one of the women and telecommunication junior board members for a year in my previous company. We collaborated across the nation to understand and research women technologists’ career paths at that time.
Six of us dove into why there are not enough female technologists in the field and quickly learned that many young girls get distracted from pursuing STEM early in their education. The first drop in interest in Tech happens between middle school and high school. We saw a 70% decline in enrollment to 10% by the end of that period. I encourage educators and technologists to inspire young girls, especially at around 8th grade in middle school; the earlier, the better.
As we did more research, the 10% enrollment in STEM when they first enter college drops further by the time they reach junior year. I had the same experience and recalled being one of 15 girls out of 100 students in the classroom. By the time I graduated, there were only three of us left. I kept thinking this would change over time but soon realized we are not there yet. Research conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows why gender gaps are particularly high in the computer science and engineering fields. Download the Why So Few Women in STEM Report here.
Experience the Reality in the Industry
So, what can individuals do to help close the gender gaps in STEM?
I am passionate about finding out what and how to make young talents focus on STEM early in their career, including providing the right tools, giving concrete advice, and demonstrating the reality in the industry. If you are a student or a recent college graduate, check out our campus programs here.
ADP offers a Development program where young talents get an opportunity to meet with leaders and understand our products. Some of them already have a STEM career, and we provide a taste of the real world before hiring them at the end of the program to become full-time associates.
I’m motivated to mentor these recent college graduates and show how much impact their decision to pursue Tech can bring. When facing intersections in their choices, I tell the young women technologists to try everything. It’s essential to understand what interests you and remember that true passion brings you further in life.
Whether building a product or entering a new career track, I encourage you to be empathetic towards the people you work with, creating a product for everyone.
Click here to search for your next move and visit Who We Hire.
Early Talent, Intern to Full-Time, Career Advice
A great candidate needs to come to the table with something to offer, and unique skills will get attention.
Looking for an Internship or First Job? Here’s the secret sauce to getting hired
By Liz Gelb-O’Connor, Global Head of Employer Brand & Marketing
Here’s some good news for people without an advanced degree. Just because you have a higher education doesn’t necessarily give you more marketable hard skills or soft skills than someone without a bachelor’s degree.
Why? You can’t learn some soft skills in school. Money can’t buy them, and books can’t teach them. But if you have them, they can set you apart. Same for hard skills you’ve developed on your own, like learning a design tool, taking a free Google Analytics course, or nurturing your love of photography. When creating a resume for your first job or an internship, dig deep and mine your hidden treasure of transferrable skills and interests to help differentiate yourself.
A true story for you. When I hired my first marketing intern in 2014, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So, I approached the experience with an open mind and discovered something valuable—not all critical skills were found on a resume. Sadly, despite the high cost of college and university education, not all students emerge with marketable business skills. I guess that’s kind of the point of internships and first jobs, right? To gain marketable business skills. Still, a marketing class on the 4 P’s (business majors, you know what I mean!) is almost meaningless when competing for a marketing internship, while working knowledge of InDesign will likely increase your chances.
Here’s what happened. My recruiter sent me 5-6 potential candidates for our marketing internship. During the candidate interviews, I felt like a dentist pulling teeth. Or worse yet, the aunt no one wanted to talk to at the annual holiday party. Seriously, some candidates gave one-word answers and had such low energy during the interview that I wanted to check their pulse. Pro tip: Don’t be like them.
At the end of the process, only one candidate seemed viable. He accepted a juicy Wall Street internship before receiving our offer. I wanted to give up and hire an experienced temp, but my recruiter called and begged me to meet one last candidate.
Enter Mia*, a rising college senior and transfer student. A few things stood out on her resume, neither of which she learned as part of her pricey college education: she owned an Etsy store for custom-designed party invitations and had experience using Adobe Creative Suite. Not only were these skills directly relevant, but they indicated three things:
When we met for an interview, she came prepared with great questions and displayed an authentically positive attitude. She also sent a “Thank You” note, which some people might consider “old school,” but it shows gratitude and respect to me. All things being equal, I will choose the candidate who says “thank you” over someone who doesn’t.
Two weeks into her summer internship, I was so impressed that I offered Mia a full-time position when she graduated.
Here’s the additional secret sauce Mia brought to the table:
When I build my teams, I look for these traits and skills whether someone has a degree or not.
After Mia, I hired two more interns that became full-time employees after graduation. Both went on to have successful careers at ADP.
Some questions you may have:
What do I do if an internship requires a specific degree?
Hard skills aren’t necessary for some internships because on-the-job training is provided. That said, some internships may require you to be a matriculated college/university student to qualify. Even so, this is where your soft skills can make a difference: collaboration, creativity, reliability, being a team player, etc. If the internship program offered is unaffiliated with current college/university attendance, you may only need the skills to do the job.
So, look at the actual internship requirements and gather your arsenal of soft and hard skills that can be transferrable to that role—then showcase them on a version of your resume.
What if the job required 2 years of relevant experience and I only have 1.5 years?
Again, examine your transferrable skills and highlight them. You may have less than two years of experience in that exact role, but what else do you bring to the table? Showing you are an avid learner and taking the initiative to develop other skills will demonstrate traits that could make you even more valuable than someone with those two years of experience.
So, when you interview for an internship or your first job, think beyond your resume. Think about how to showcase the skills you have that make you an asset, a functional part of a team, and uniquely you in a way that adds something to a role. Please, don’t be the candidate with a low pulse rate. Be the one who shines with positivity and shows how you will make the existing team even better and stronger.
How did it all turn out for Mia? She stayed with our company for over 3.5X longer than the average new grad. We even featured her in one of our employer brand campaigns for our campus channel. It was indeed a pleasure to watch her learn, grow, and thrive in our company, where she moved from marketing to a tech UX Design position. We are still in touch on Instagram as she travels the world and navigates the next chapter of her career.
For more, listen to Life @ ADP Podcast Episode 3: Tips for Interviewing, How to Make Lasting Impressions, and Helpful Hints.
*Name changed for anonymity
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