Earlier this year, Uptake hosted GLP Scholars in their offices for a Job Shadow Day. Uptake presented new projects such as Student Union to scholars, organized a panel discussion on career pathways, and matched students with staff for individualized shadowing. Boeing Scholars Program Class of ’13 Alum Sharon Ou attended the event and shares more about her experience below. Sharon graduated from Northeastern University in 2017 with a BSBA and a minor in Chinese. She is currently in the ILLINOIS MS Tax Program (U of I) for her Masters in Taxation and works as a part-time intern at a CPA firm in Chinatown.
Uptake is a predictive analytics company with a focus on machine learning that was started three years ago. The industries they currently provide services to span from Agriculture to Wind. Some of the projects they have worked on include predicting failures of train engines to help clients prepare for and prevent costly breakdowns. On the other side, Uptake.org is the “philanthropic and civic innovation arm of Uptake”, where they develop applications and tools to be used directly by those who deal with certain social issues firsthand.
Toni, who coordinated the shadow day event, walked us through what they do at Uptake and Uptake.org, and introduced us to Student Union. Student Union is a web-based tool that assists high school students in determining and selecting which colleges/universities are a good match for them based on GPA, tests scores, and demographics (that include race). Sara, an intern, helped us get set up on laptops so that everyone could get an opportunity to log on and explore the interface. I thought Student Union would’ve been a great resource to turn to when I was applying to colleges because it provided my likelihood of getting in based on the details I entered.
Next, five members from Uptake joined us for a panel discussion. They talked about their majors, previous work experiences, and what they do now. All the panelists were upbeat about their roles, whether it was being a UX (user experience) Interaction Designer or a Data Operations Engineer. But what resonated with me the most was the encouragement and advice they offered to myself and fellow shadowees. One of the panelists, Mark, talked about his journey to Uptake. When he first applied for a position he didn’t get in the door; however, a year and a half after, he took another shot and applied again for another opportunity, and now he’s been at Uptake for a year and having a great time. It was a great reminder that not all paths or journeys have to be straight line, and that the right opportunity will find you if you keep working at it.
After the panel, I got to shadow Sam, who called himself a “Plumber” (Systems Engineer). Coming from a Business/Tax background, a lot of the technical language that Sam and his team members used went over my head, but they took their time to put as much as they could in layman’s terms for me. Besides their roles and their backgrounds, we also discussed the viability and the current spotlight that’s been placed on cryptocurrency as well as a language I could learn if I wanted to start coding. During lunch, Sam and I went down to the lunchroom, which was an expansive and colorfully furnished space they shared with building mates like Groupon. There, he introduced me to other coworkers/friends he interacted with and conversation continued until the end of the event.
Overall I had a great experience at Uptake and it was an amazing opportunity to not only learn more about a company that got dubbed one of ‘The Hottest Startups Of 2015’ by Forbes, but to network with the people that made this company stand out.