Alyssa Snow, a CSU San Marcos and Link to San Diego alumna, is a cybersecurity professional currently working for Teradata. She has participated in two of EDC’s Advancing San Diego industry engagement events in 2021—most recently for a Women in STEM career panel. For Alyssa, participating in these events is meaningful because she remembers how it felt to sit on the opposite end of the room only a few years back, and finding her career path through EDC’s Link to San Diego event.
Read more about Alyssa’s experience below.
How did Link to San Diego launch your career?
In my third year of college at CSU San Marcos in 2018, I attended EDC’s “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” career panel and industry engagement event. This event propelled my career in cybersecurity. During the event, one panelist shared what it was like to work as a security engineer, which inspired me to learn more.
I approached the panelist, a representative from Teradata, and asked him how relevant specific projects of mine may be to practical security experience. After the event, I continued to keep in touch with the professional via LinkedIn and email. He sent me various links to resources that introduced security topics that I was interested in learning more about. Eventually, this individual introduced me to a few other employees from Teradata.
I will never forget this day. It meant so much to me that six security professionals took the time to have lunch with me a few weeks after the event and answer some questions regarding what it is like to work in the industry. By the end of the lunch, the Application Security team director asked me for my resume. He informed me that there were no internship opportunities for the security organization at that time, however, he would like to reach out if one were to become available.
Just a month after this lunch, a recruiter reached out to me and asked me if I would like to interview for an open internship position on that very team. I became one of the first-ever interns in the security organization at Teradata. I interned with the Application Security team for a year and a quarter, and was responsible for delivering automated solutions to scale product security across the organization. It was a remarkable experience that gave me direction in my career path.
Where are you now?
I now work at Teradata’s San Diego office as a full-time offensive security engineer. My team and I use adversary perspectives to help Teradata evaluate risks and identify process gaps to help improve the organization’s security posture. I love working in this industry because I am constantly facing new challenges that require creative solutions. I would not have had this experience if I had not attended “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” in 2018.
The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched this Spring in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets companies with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98% of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.
As students are closing out their Summer internship experiences, EDC is rolling out this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that comprise the first cohort of the program, and the interns they hosted.
In this feature, we sat down with Paul Victorine, CTO and Co-Founder at Tourmaline Wireless, who hosted two ASD interns. A part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, Tourmaline Wireless is building the future of decentralized wireless telecommunications. The Oceanside-based company provides resilient, off-grid solutions based on mesh networks, 4G LTE, and Iridium satellite.
Why was your company founded, and what are your current points of focus?
I started the company at the beginning of 2019, after having worked for a Tier-1 wireless operator for nearly 20 years. I jumped at the opportunity to start my own consulting business, leveraging an extensive background in deploying and optimizing cellular networks. Tourmaline is currently developing a new gateway product that will allow localized mesh networks to connect to geographically separated networks across the globe. This gateway will allow neighborhoods and communities affected by natural disasters to continue communicating with their loved ones. This allows for the sharing of hyper-local information and will support offline payment remittances in far-off corners of the world. It might even provide hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail a means of “checking-in” with friends and family at various mile markers. There are many use-cases we envision for the mesh gateway, and we are excited to see how our customers anticipate using the device too!
Tell us about your experience building a small business in San Diego. What resources, services and/or organizations were most valuable in supporting Tourmaline’s growth?
Building a startup in San Diego has been a great experience overall! Valuable resources include following San Diego Regional EDC, Innovate78, and the City of Oceanside. There is a ton of talent here in San Diego – largely coming out of the many colleges and universities spread throughout the county. There is also a surprising amount of resources available here that help support small business. I’ve been really impressed with all the grants, loans, and positive encouragement broadcast daily from San Diego Regional EDC.
How has your company pivoted as a result of COVID-19?
As a result of COVID-19, we decided to go all-in and focus exclusively on new product development as our day-to-day consulting jobs (designing, installing, and optimizing cellular in-building equipment) were mostly sidelined due to COVID-19.
Tell us a little bit about your interns and the value they bring.
We are currently hosting two college interns through the ASD program, who you’ll hear from in another blog post. One intern is soon graduating from UC San Diego, with a BS in Computer Science. Our second intern will be starting her Junior year at NYU, as a transfer from Mesa College, also studying Computer Science. The internship experience was definitely a challenge given its fully remote format. Plus, it was our first time hosting interns, but it turned out to be a rewarding experience for all of us. They helped troubleshoot and improve our existing software codebase, adding new features and functionality. We were able to meet up in-person (socially distanced, of course) for a field day of wireless range testing at Balboa Park. It was a fun experience and I think it helped the interns better understand the capability of wireless mesh communications.
In your opinion, what is special about San Diego’s science and technology community, and the talent that drives it?
San Diego has historically been a technology-driven community, from the early days with the focus on military and defense (companies like General Dynamics) to the early 2000’s being a wireless hotbed (including Qualcomm, Nokia, etc). Now we are starting to see software really taking hold here, with companies like Apple opening offices and building out their local workforce. San Diego really is the perfect choice for STEAM students to select for college and then stay to launch their careers.
EDC’s inclusive growth strategy is fueled by three key economic ingredients: skilled workers, quality jobs (particularly in small companies) and thriving households. Launched in 2019 with funding from JP Morgan Chase, Advancing San Diego is helping the region meet its inclusive growth goals by addressing skilled talent shortages and expanding access to quality job opportunities. Advancing San Diego partners, in lockstep with industry and education partners, recognize that each group has a role to play in developing and strengthening our local talent pool.
The challenge & the opportunity
Employers cite access to diverse, qualified talent as a top challenge within their business, relying on high-cost recruitment strategies to fill job openings. Meanwhile, San Diego is a diverse community with an education system that serves hundreds of thousands of San Diegans (10 community colleges, 5 universities, numerous non-traditional training programs). Black and Hispanic San Diegans make up more than half of our population, but are glaringly underrepresented in high-demand jobs.
Advancing San Diego introduces a collaborative, region-wide strategy to prepare San Diegans for high-demand jobs via our locally-serving education intuitions. While labor market data is improving, there is not a consistent approach for adapting education to meet industry expectations. With clear and consistent communication about skills, we collectively create an environment where San Diegans are trained for, and can access quality job opportunities, and employers can look to our local talent pool for their hiring needs.
Talent development amid a global pandemic
We felt the initial impacts of the pandemic across our entire economy. Unemployment in San Diego rose from 4.2% to 15% in a matter of months, with some industries experiencing a 50% decline in their workforce. Of the jobs impacted the most, many were already at risk of decline due to factors including automation and digitization. Further, the highest-risk jobs are disproportionately held by Black and Hispanic San Diegans.
Other industries, particularity innovation industries, took less of a hit as business held steady and employees had the option to work remotely. Jobs most insulated from the impacts of the pandemic are disproportionately held by white and Asian San Diegans.
Pre- and post-COVID-19, software developers continue to rank among the highest demand occupations in San Diego. In May, software developers were the second most advertised job in San Diego, with 3,000 postings. With numerous training options beyond a 4-year degree, software engineers can be trained relatively quickly at a much lower cost to the individual, and both training and jobs can be done from essentially anywhere with an internet connection. As such, Advancing San Diego started its work by informing education providers on skills requirements for software engineers, and is actively working with employers do the same for engineering and business professionals.
The Advancing San Diego approach
Advancing San Diego is a demand-driven, outcomes based strategy for strengthening lines of communication between industry and education, and expanding access to talent for small companies.
COMMUNICATION: employer working groups communicate hiring requirements for entry-level jobs, offer feedback to education providers on how to update & improve curriculum, and recognize “Preferred Providers” as delivering top-quality training for quality jobs. It’s through this process that employers also gain a better understanding of which local institutions they should be recruiting from. YEAR 1 PROGRESS: 30+ employers have actively engaged in working groups to communicate skills criteria, offer feedback on curricula, and grow the network of Preferred Provider programs. Following their participation in the working group, many employers express interest in hiring from a community college, university, or non-traditional training program where they had not previously recruited from. >> Skills Reports for Software Talent & Engineering Talent
ADAPTATION: with better communication from industry, education programs can more effectively train talent that employers want to hire. Education programs are also recognized by employers for their ability to reach and serve a diverse student body. YEAR 1 PROGRESS: Employers have offered feedback to 21 education programs; 7 have been selected as Preferred Providers of software talent, and Preferred Providers of engineering talent will be announced in coming weeks. Multiple programs who were not selected are actively adapting programs for reconsideration as a Preferred Providers, which are evaluated annually. >> More information on Preferred Providers
ACCESS: Small companies (<100 employees) often do not have the time or resources to effectively recruit top talent. At no cost to them, small companies can host paid interns from Preferred Provider programs as part of Advancing San Diego. These companies receive training for building successful remote teams, access to a software platform for managing remote interns, and interns are eligible for $500 in products or services that support their internship success. The internship program prioritizes students who are first generation college students, community college students, or residents of San Diego’s low income communities. YEAR 1 PROGRESS: 22 small companies from a variety of industries are hosting ASD interns remotely this summer. A second cohort of companies is currently being recruited to meet interest in this program from students, many of whom are experiencing heightened anxiety due to job-market uncertainty. >> The average size of companies in this cohort is 12 employees, and 54% of host companies identify as either minority, woman, disabled, veteran, or immigrant-owned. >> ASD has placed +40 software engineering interns from community college, university, and non-traditional education backgrounds. 100% of interns are either first-gen college students, community college students, veterans, or residents of San Diego’s low income communities.
Advancing San Diego was designed as a cyclical process that is responsive to the ever-changing needs of the economy. Our priority remains to better prepare the local talent pool for the jobs our economy needs, and provide better access to talent for small companies. Even once shelter-in-place guidelines are lifted, we will continue to offer paid remote work experiences as one way to remove geographic and scheduling barriers for students and companies.
However, we realize that not all jobs can be done remotely. While we will continue to focus on high-demand job areas such as software, we will lean into jobs that are economically resilient, good-paying jobs that are accessible via shorter-term training and have cross-cutting industry need. We believe this approach will increase our ability to support those most impacted by the pandemic on a path to economic stability.
The Advancing San DiegoInternship Program launched this spring and students are now beginning their summer internship experiences in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While students’ experiences are in their early stages, we’re launching this blog series to highlight the exciting local companies that are hosting interns in the program’s first round of internships.
We sat down with Steve Moyo, CEO at Welfie. Part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, Welfie, which stands for a ‘wellness selfie’, provides a snapshot of one’s health and delivers personalized content, products and services to meet individuals’ health needs – all while connecting users with people and professionals who care.
Tell us about you and your story.
I am a Zulu. I was born in Zambia and grew up in Canada. I moved to the US for medical school where I met a wonderful woman from Michigan. After I finished my Internal Medicine residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore I moved here to San Diego, for said woman. I founded Welfie as an extension of what I am most passionate about: promoting heart health and using content to tell stories. Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., and much like COVID-19, it has profoundly impacted the various communities that I am connected to, from healthcare workers to communities of color. Welfie is excited to be helping communities, universities, colleges and businesses, solve the immediate problem of how to “Get Back To Campus, Safely” with our symptom screening app and high quality PPE. But our long term focus is much bigger than just COVID-19, we sit primed to address important issues of our time, which include heart health, mental health and racial health disparities. We are starting here, in San Diego, focusing on local schools, businesses and communities and we call on any San Diego community leaders to contact us to collaborate.
How was your experience building a small business/startup in San Diego?
San Diego has been a great place to start a company. There are countless individuals, consultants, companies and organizations that have been essential to getting us where we are today. We are proud members of The Brink, San Diego Venture Group (now Connect), and part of the third cohort at Connect All Jacobs Center. The San Diego Angels Conference has been immensely influential as well as San Diego Startup Week. These are just a few of the organizations that have helped us grow rapidly and find our way in the entrepreneurial start up world.
How has your company pivoted as a result of COVID-19?
Welfie offers a one-stop-shop for universities, colleges and businesses to “Get Back To Campus, Safely.” We developed a simple 3-point plan:
Prepare – Welfie has launched a COVID-19 symptom screening app to help community leaders prepare to return. Screen employees and students daily for symptoms and fever. And create a culture of trust, care and accountability.
Prevent – We have a high quality PPE store backed by an FDA/NIOSH certified supply chain where you can get PPE in bulk and subscribe to the Welfie Care Package – PPE delivered to your door monthly.
Protect – we are developing real time data analytics and insights that will allow community leaders and individuals to assess their risk, and make the right decisions for their communities, families and themselves.The decision to pivot was easy. We had to do something. Identifying the right thing to do and where we felt we could have the greatest impact, quickly was the key. We ultimately decided to stick to our wheelhouse, education, engagement and empowering people to make the right decisions. So while I used to say ‘pivot’, I now prefer to say expanded. Welfie is a community health platform that has been focused on prevention. We started our journey focused on heart health, and have expanded to COVID-19.
How did you find out about Advancing San Diego and how has your experience been so far?
Credit goes to the local San Diego network. It was one of those weeks where mentors and advisors were all pointing me in the right direction and Advancing San Diego came up in numerous conversations. One key part of the community health platform we are building centers around health influencers, doctors, fitness coaches, perhaps even your mom. Our current software development interns are focused on building the essential features that a health influencer would need, from chat to a social health feed and including video hosting capabilities.
What is special about San Diego’s science and technology community, and the talent that drives it?
I think honesty and humility are two keywords that define the community here. People honestly want to see each other succeed. There is a great energy that San Diego is on the cusp of becoming an even stronger science and tech hub. And, that instead of exporting talent we are importing, cultivating and nurturing people and companies right here. The humility of San Diego’s leaders in science and technology to remain open to connection, mentorship and collaboration with local startups has been unique.
What words of advice would you give to the San Diego community to more effectively support entrepreneurs?
Perhaps it is the musician in me speaking but I would love to continue to see more collaboration. I think, specifically, in the area where Welfie is focused, digital health. There is a ‘stronger together’ narrative for startups to be able to succeed in the current environment. So intra-industry collaboration plus collaborating across industry as well I think can only enhance opportunity, success and is just fun.
Over the past few weeks, it’s fair to say that our world (and community) have been turned upside down. Given the current circumstances, we know there are many San Diego job seekers on the market. And while things are changing rapidly, we are still getting calls from companies that are hiring and VCs that are still looking to invest.
The result: a growing, “live” list of more than 25 companies that are still looking for innovative San Diegans to fill open positions. The list is updated almost daily with new companies and to ensure the most current news, company representatives themselves submit hiring information. With open opportunities at tech giants like Qualcomm, life sciences teams like BD, and even nonprofits and startups, we’re hopeful our community will quickly find exciting new positions working on homegrown innovations.
Click here or scroll down to see the live list of San Diego companies that are hiring. And if your company is still hiring, we encourage your team to use this form to provide our San Diego community with additional details. It takes under a minute to pay it forward – and help someone in our community find their next opportunity.
In March, Advancing San Diego held a webinar on making the most of interns at small companies. Find the complete guide for building a successful internship program, complete with considerations for remote workers, here: Making the most of (remote) interns.
Whether it’s practicing social distancing, increasing safety and cleanliness procedures, or working remote, you’re likely figuring out how to maintain productivity when “going to work” looks and feels a lot different right now. With so much uncertainty about where we’ll be in 2 weeks, 3 months, or a year – two things stand true: our current situation is not permanent and our lives will continue to move forward.
Students will continue to graduate and companies will continue to innovate. Beyond their adjustment to online education, many students in San Diego are experiencing heightened anxiety about what a recession means for their job prospects post-grad. Meanwhile, companies are adjusting to a new economy, with some experiencing growth in their core business functions and some creatively pivoting. Either way, many companies need help (perhaps now more than ever) and remote internships are an excellent option for maintaining engagement with students.
Internship programs are an effective means of building relationships with qualified individuals who are eager to learn and contribute. It’s no secret that a strong internship program is much more likely to convert interns to full time employees. However, a successful internship program no longer means coffee runs and paper-filing. Internships are an opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in a professional environment, and companies need to be intentional about how they make the most of their intern’s strengths. Standing up an internship program comes with lots of questions. What types of projects should interns work on? Who should they report to? How often do you communicate with them? What happens in a world where ALL internships need to be remote?
In March, EDC and the San Diego Workforce Partnership hosted a webinar on making the most of interns at small companies. This session was part of Advancing San Diego: a collaborative new initiative designed to strengthen relationships between industry and education. Over three years, Advancing San Diego will cover the cost of interns for more than 100 small companies, with the first round of interns being fully remote. The webinar was geared towards smaller companies without existing internship programs, but much of the content is applicable for companies of all sizes looking to create stronger engagement with their student workers, even when they’re remote.
Some key takeaways:
1. Prepare relevant onboarding materials to share with your intern ahead of their start date.
Process documents, to the extent they are available
Relevant tools, platforms, websites and links to demos
Single sheet with all login information
2. Provide any necessary equipment and tools needed for your intern to do their job well.
Have all equipment and tools set-up and tested ahead of time to ensure intern can jump in on day one.
Any equipment will be used only during their time with your company, so equipment is a useful investment that can be used to accommodate future interns.
Remote consideration: Interns will likely not have a high-performing computer at home. It will take a bit of extra coordination between the company and the student to ensure their home office is set up with everything they need.
3. Identify a supervisor who will serve as the intern’s main point of contact throughout their internship.
Supervisor might be someone responsible for the success of the larger project that the intern will be working on. However, this person should not be the busiest person on any project. This person should be patient and enjoy training others.
Supervisors don’t necessarily require prior management experience, but find out if anyone on your team has managed interns before and see if they’d be interested.
Consider someone who isn’t the obvious choice to supervise, but who might be the best fit for molding interns into professionals who are well prepared for the workforce.
While bringing on interns is certainly a chance for the company to test someone’s skillsets, the internship is also a chance for the intern to assess whether they see themselves working for your company longer term. Thankfully, thoughtful planning for your internship program can lead to an equal value exchange where the student gets great experience and the company gets results.
Find Advancing San Diego’s complete guide for building a successful internship program, complete with considerations for remote workers, here: Making the most of (remote) interns.
Fueled by tech, defense, and life science industries, San Diego’s innovation economy relies on a pipeline of diverse talent. However, local companies continue to cite access to quality talent as a persistent challenge–98% of firms in San Diego are small companies (fewer than 100 employees) that often lack time and resources to effectively compete for talent with their larger counterparts. Meanwhile, many San Diegans are disconnected from high-demand job opportunities like software engineering, largely due to education requirements.
Made possible by JPMorgan Chase, Advancing San Diego is a demand-driven strategy to address talent shortages and remove barriers for small companies to access qualified workers. It is a collaborative effort between San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association, San Diego Workforce Partnership, City of San Diego, and United Way of San Diego.
Over the last six months, Advancing San Diego partners worked with a group of 17 employers to develop a skills-based criteria for the region’s highest growth position over the past five years–software engineers. We asked that any education provider meeting that criteria apply for the Preferred Provider designation. An employer review panel then evaluated these applicants against the skills criteria to determine which programs should be designated as ‘Preferred Providers’, recognized as effectively preparing individuals for jobs and internships in software engineering.
EDC is excited to announce the first round of Preferred Providers of software talent.
Preferred Providers (Full Designation) – defined as fully preparing individuals for software engineering jobs.
Over the next three years, Advancing San Diego will cover the cost of internships for Preferred Provider students within up to 100 small companies. Students will also participate in industry engagement opportunities such as career fairs and networking events, and become eligible for up to $500 each in flexible funds to support their success in the workplace. The Preferred Provider (full) and (partial) designations come with the same set of benefits. The first cohort will be placed in Summer 2020.
If you are a small company (<100 employees) that is interested in receiving interns from STEM fields and meets the eligibility criteria, apply now!
How education programs can get involved:
Advancing San Diego will continue to designate Preferred Providers in a variety of high-demand fields. Preferred Provider criteria and applications are updated and reviewed on an annual basis. The Preferred Provider application schedule is as follows:
Through it all, EDC impacted 5,228 jobs and worked on 179 projects – supported by companies, investors, community partners, and more – on behalf of San Diego’s economy. While our work spans multiple industries and organizations, with various programs and goals, there’s an universal thread that ties it all together: build a more inclusive economy that benefits all San Diegans.
As we close out 2019 and another successful decade, let us recap our top 10 wins for San Diego…
San Diego: Life. Changing.’s Just Say No to Winter campaign received national attention
Going into its fourth year, SD: Life. Changing. is our award-winning campaign that aims to attract and retain talent for our region. We kicked off 2019 with Just Say No to Winter, a transit and social media campaign that targeted STEM talent in Boston, Chicago, and New York during the peak of winter with information about career opportunities in San Diego. Thanks to this go-viral marketing push – and coverage in The New York Times, the nationally-syndicated program “The List,” and more – we saw 34X the ROI, 2.6 million social media impressions, and 36K video views.
EDC received its largest grant in history, catalyzing Advancing San Diego
World Trade Center SD’s MetroConnect export assistance program had its best year yet
Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co., MetroConnect provides small- and medium-sized companies with the resources necessary to expand into global markets. During the 2018-19 program, companies in MetroConnect IV collectively generated a net increase of $69.6 million in export sales, signed 369 international contracts, and opened 10 new facilities overseas. Together, the 20 participating companies also created more than 100 jobs in San Diego – evidence that exporting supports the increase of jobs locally.
While the growth of our innovation economy has created tremendous opportunity, it has also perpetuated systemic inequities. 2019 was all about elevating an inclusive economic development strategy – the lens in which EDC views all of its work – so that economic growth is seen and felt among the entire region. In order to effectively do this, EDC’s employer-led Inclusive Growth Steering Committee supported actionable recommendations and measurable targets for creating a San Diego that benefits all residents. By 2030:
With support from EDC, Cubic Corporation secured $8.5M in tax credits & broke ground on its new HQ
“Since our founding in 1951, we have established strong roots in the San Diego community and it was very important for us to remain headquartered here. The San Diego Regional EDC was an integral resource for our redevelopment. They were able to strategically bring key partners together and secure incentives that best positioned us to redevelop our headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area.” – Anshooman Aga, executive vice president and CFO at Cubic Corporation
EDC managed San Diego’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP), propelling 1,150+ successful missions
From monitoring coastal erosion to fighting wildfires, drones offer enormous social and environmental benefits. San Diego is currently one of 10 state, local, and tribal governments to participate in the Integration Pilot Program, which has allowed our region to be at the forefront of an industry that is expected to reach a $43 billion market value by 2024.
EDC produced 24 reports to help residents and businesses better understand San Diego’s economy
EDC provides research and data to local companies, site selectors, and civic leaders to help them make well-informed decisions about our economy. From monthly reports (and videos) that chart key economic indictors to customized economic impact reports for companies, EDC’s research helped the regional stakeholders better understand this place we call home.
Innovate78 ampliﬁed its reach along the 78 Corridor, convening more than 500+ individuals
International partnerships take time, but based on initial meetings on the trade mission, San Diego has planted the seed for long-term relationships with major companies, including BMW, IBM, Siemens, Daimler, and more.
Since its founding in 1989, Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM) has put its commitment to social mobility at the forefront of its educational mission. The university’s dedication to economic opportunity was recognized this week when it was named among the nation’s leaders in social mobility.
The Social Mobility Index
CSUSM ranks 36th nationally out of almost 1,500 schools measured in the sixth annual Social Mobility Index (SMI) by CollegeNET.
The SMI focuses directly on the factors that enable economic mobility. The index is computed from five variables: published tuition, percentage of students whose families have incomes below $48,000 (slightly below the U.S. median), graduation rate, median salary approximately five years after graduation, and endowment size.
“Nationally, higher education is often called out for reinforcing inequality rather than closing socioeconomic gaps,” said EDC Board Member and CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt “However, our rising SMI ranking embodies our collective efforts to serve any student who dreams of the opportunities that come with a college education as we help them reach their full potential.”
CSUSM improved its ranking in the SMI for the fourth consecutive year. The university ranked 74th in 2015, 62nd in 2016, 54th in 2017, and 52nd last year.
How CSUSM is creating a more inclusive San Diego
As EDC looks to create a more inclusive San Diego, CSUSM and other regional educational institutions are playing a pioneering role in San Diego’s strategy. Afterall, CSUSM is a crucial part of creating a sustainable talent pipeline. Nearly 80 percent of its graduates remain in the region following graduation. In 2018, the university opened its engineering program, creating a technical talent pipeline for companies such as Viasat and emerging regional startups.
CSUSM is trying to correct systematic inequities in that are often ever-present in the educational system. More than half (54 percent) of its graduates are first-generation bachelor’s degree recipients. Additionally, nearly half of its students qualify for Federal Pell Grants. In order to support students from all backgrounds, the university offers community-based learning opportunities, internships, undergraduate research opportunities and more to ensure student success.
In November, EDC hosted a ‘Data Science Trek,’ which brought together 65 aspiring data scientists from colleges and universities across the region. Throughout the day, students from MiraCosta College, UCSD, SDSU, USD, and Alliant International University toured Booz Allen Hamilton, Walmart Labs, and Intuit and engaged in panel discussions with local data science professionals.
With the emergence of big data and growing need to analyze a high volume of information that is collected at every second, Data Science is a rapidly growing field across the globe. Companies require highly skilled talent to process the information, which helps inform business decisions, improve efficiency, and understand the precise requirements of customers, among other applications.
Trek participants got a firsthand look at how their classroom learning will translate into the workplace. For many, this event marked a ‘first’ for meeting with professionals, learning about day-to-day workflow, and visualizing themselves as data scientists in San Diego.
Among the slew of exciting projects presented, Walmart Labs described how they are using in-store robotics via shelf-scanning robots to improve quality assurance. Whether it’s a stock-out, missing label, or inaccurate price, this technology is helping maximize an associate’s time and improving customer service.
Booz Allen Hamilton previewed its new artificial intelligence platform called ‘Modzy,’ which will give customers access to a revolutionary marketplace of pre-trained AI models from leading machine-learning companies. As they group learned about these cutting-edge projects, one participant said, “Data Science is not just a buzz word. Data Scientists solve real and interesting problems!”
Following the Trek, 95 percent of surveyed participants felt more informed about opportunities in the local data science industry. Also encouraging, 97 percent of the group stated that they do intend on pursuing a career in the San Diego region. As one of three companies showcased from the region, the three employers had an opportunity to meet with students from the local STEM talent pool and be proactive in the recruitment process.
From Booz Allen Hamilton’s blend of strong corporate culture mixed with young, collaborative data science team, to Walmart Labs’ tech startup vibe, and also Intuit’s cutting-edge tech campus, each company showcased its unique workplace setting. This gave students a chance to see the wide array of work environments that are available in San Diego, while better realizing their own workplace preferences.
The Trek Series represents a larger regional effort, led by San Diego Regional EDC, promoting careers in San Diego by connecting students to various industries. For students engaged in this program, we are confident they will choose San Diego as their career destination. Hear about it firsthand from the participants:
“This experience was overall very insightful and lots of fun, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to stoke their curiosity and get expert advice on data science in San Diego.” —Isabella Messina, Bachelor’s student (B.S. Computer Science), San Diego State University
“One of the most impactful experiences I have had…and have taken away a lot with regards to the kind of personal progress that I will need to forge a successful career in the coming years.”—Ashok Anand B, Master’s student (M.S. Big Data Analytics), San Diego State University
“Waiting for hours to speak with a representative and shouting over the background noise at career fairs is definitely no competition to the Data Science Trek.” —Levan Badzgaradze, Master’s student (M.S. Computer Science), San Diego State University
Are you a San Diego company looking to attract talent? We’re here to help.