Jocelyn S. Lai has been identifying and recruiting talent for a long time. She joins Adam to discuss the ways the needs of both the market and the talent have changed. Her role has shifted from agency recruiter to building a team at Duolingo, providing a broad perspective.
Transcript by Otter.ai
Adam Pierno 0:21
Alright, welcome back to another episode of the strategy inside everything this is going to be fun. We’ve already been talking for a few minutes and we had to pause to start the episode otherwise I think Jocelyn and I would have just started running and not even realize that we were recording. As I just tipped off my guest today is Jocelyn S. Lai who is currently director of talent acquisition at Duolingo although she’s been doing talent acquisition for a long time across a diverse range of industries. How are you?
Jocelyn S. Lai 0:50
I’m good. Thanks for having me.
Adam Pierno 0:53
Thank you so much for making time to join me we have known each other for I think a decade. Yes, and this is First thing we’re meeting pixel face to face. Yeah, I think we’ve had it. We’ve had a phone call or two and you were in Austin then. Yep. You’re at t three. You’ve been to if you worked at RGA and Droga Yep, yep. And GSD&M as well. Oh, great job.
Jocelyn S. Lai 1:17
JC Penney right when I graduated.
Adam Pierno 1:20
Okay. Well, that one we’ll–
Jocelyn S. Lai 1:23
It was actually really good insight into client side and how it works. And then you move from that to the agency world. Yes. So while I was in school, all my internships were agency side. When I graduated during the recession, my job offer was rescinded because the company I was supposed to join, laid off 20% of their company had to pull back all their offers. So that was a really good learning lesson for me of the realities of the industry. But that’s how I ended up client side. It’s something I always wanted to try. tested it out. It wasn’t right for me then. So I went back to agency side and kind of did my tour of duty there and wasn’t sure what was next. dueling no came along. And so now here I am, back the client side, but in a startup world.
Adam Pierno 2:04
Yeah, this is a different role than I wouldn’t I wouldn’t compare the established JC Penney brand of the the aughts to Duolingo of today. Yeah, it’s, it’s a startup, but it is in super startup mode Exactly. is past that opening hurdle. It has succeeded. And now it’s trying to figure out how big it can get right. Yeah,
Jocelyn S. Lai 2:22
Adam Pierno 2:24
Well, I wanted to talk to you I was thinking of the topic that I that I have been kicking around is how has the needs of talent and marketing and advertising changed from you know, the over the last 10 years as the Internet has just rocked havoc on on everything it’s come in contact with? And I was thinking, who do I know, that has been in the game exactly that time period? And I was like, Oh, I know. Jocelyn S. Lai – she would be awesome to talk about this.
Jocelyn S. Lai 2:52
Yeah, I remember when we first started talking. This is like when banner ads were a huge thing. And there’s like shoot the monkey or – quickly progressing change,
Adam Pierno 3:24
So tell just give people a sense you you started on the client side, but give people a sense of the roles you had at different companies to get to where you are now a Duolingo.
Jocelyn S. Lai 3:42
Sure. So I’ll back up into undergrad so I studied advertising at the University of Texas. And so I started off actually business side and then marketing advertising world realized it was actually two slow moving for me and that each year your campus pains really changed minimally. And you have to Wait until the next year. This was when most clients were on retainer. And so I quickly realized, wow, I knew advertising marketing was quick moving, but I actually wanted to move faster. And so I’d always been involved in recruitment in some form or another. And so that’s where I joined t three at the time to help start up or help with recruitment there. And the reason I joined at the time is while as a JC Penney as a digital analyst, so I did analytics, digital production, and they were looking for analytics at the time, but didn’t know what analytics look like. So it kind of made sense of if I played the role before I’d be able to speak that language. So that was my first foray into recruitment. I made a few pivots back into the business side, but ultimately decided, yes, recruitment is my home. It’s where I love it. And so the common thread for me across the different organizations that I’ve been at, has been to join at a point of change or transformation. So at two three, it’s helped us build out new digital capabilities. Then I joined GST nm where it’s helped us go from Big, traditional TV centric type ad agency to a place that’s viewed a little bit more modern and bring in that that digital expertise again help us rebrand in a way. Then after GST and M, I went over to RGA, which was helped us open up new offices and restructure offices. Welcome to talk about a difference from the culture of GST and M to RGA. Is grow, grow grow when you when you join their Exactly. And at the time, that was also when Bay Area was really going through its peak of growth. So agencies, ad agencies at the time were faced with this big challenge of all the startups are taking our talent, how do we compete as an ad agency? So there’s a lot of Yeah, so there’s a lot of that thought process and restructuring repositioning and then opening up helping open up the LA office, and then they moved me over to Asia for a bit where I helped open up the Shanghai office restructured Singapore a bit. And then Sydney is relatively easy in terms of just grow Sydney and then the drug of five operation And he came up where it’s we’re growing as a company, but help us build talent acquisition from the ground up. Because at the time, they were using only external recruiters, which is, I think something important for talent to understand is there’s external recruiters who are essentially vendors to the ad agency or the company. And then there’s internal recruiters. They’re always a target. So I am familiar with this distinction, but I bet a lot of our listeners are not if they get a contact via LinkedIn from a recruiter who is external who is a, essentially a headhunter who is working to be the matchmaker between a company which might be an agency and talent. There they take a commission Yep. of the talent they bring to that company. Yep. And talk talk a little bit for for listeners about internally. How does that impact hires? How does that impact prioritization of interviews and candidates and you know, what does that do to someone’s chances when an outside recruiter brings brings in talent? Sure. I’ve been on both sides. When I did my own consulting, I was external consultant external recruiter, I will say if you are great candidate, it doesn’t matter who you come from, because your experience will speak for itself. So the key is to be great all the time. Yes, I think we should all aspire. Yeah. I will say there are a lot of external recruiters who are very salesy because of that financial model the financial incentive. Sure, though, I think it’s totally cool to work with external recruiters, but just be aware that there is that extra incentive, whereas in house, if I placed 200 people, I’m still making the same salary as if I place zero, right. And the internal recruiters know there’s an org chart that they’re looking at, they know the roles that need to be filled. They have an open, you know, job rack that they’re trying to meet, and they’re saying, okay, here’s what the candidate needs to look like, from a skills perspective in order to be considered for this job. Exactly, yeah, just just more structured. Yep. Yep. So when you you mentioned a few things along your along your path, which was a lot of growth in the arts, a lot of startup.
Adam Pierno 8:14
So, you know, high growth high competition for candidates. And to now, which I’m assuming it’s still competitive at the scale that you’re hiring at dual lingo, but is it is it different in terms of the skills you’re trying to gather or the what you’re looking for in candidates that may have been in similar levels when you started and now?
Jocelyn S. Lai 8:36
Yeah, so it’s a competition wise, it’s still the same.
Because if you’re working for me, I’ve always aspired to every place I join not only has to be at a point of change, because that’s where cool ideas happen, but also have to be the best at that time. And I think when you work for a company who looks for the best talent, competition will always remain Regardless of it for looking for engineers, designers, strategists, account managers, it will always remain. But I do think over time, the motivation behind telling and why we look at talent has changed. So I was trying to think of like how do I succinctly do a TL dr on this? My TL dr on this is it used to be people join an organization to do work together. Then it became people join organizations to have fun together. And now I truly believe it’s people join organizations to build something together. So much in this way to look at Yeah, so one is like, Okay, my, I just, I need a job just to go in and you know, work with people, then it’s like, I don’t want to just work with people. I want to have fun. And that’s where this whole trend in the ad agency world came of, like culture fit. We always ask people this question. And now that I look back, I’m like, maybe it wasn’t right question, but it’s like, would you want Would you be able to like live with them? Would you want to spend 50 hours a week with them, right?
Adam Pierno 9:59
What if you got stuck in an airport?
Jocelyn S. Lai 10:00
Exactly. So that was all about this before. Yeah, fine. But now it’s like, All right, we’ve seen what fun can also do, there can be some negatives with it. So now a lot of candidates are looking for mission driven, purpose driven organization, where we’re all doing good for the world. And that actually, I think does create for a stronger team bond, because you don’t have to check the values of people on your team. It’s like, okay, we’re in this together. If we’re so Duolingo, our mission is to provide accessible education in the world. If every single person on that team believes in it, it’s pretty hard for an asshole to make it into the company. Right? and the way and what motivates us is all the things that make for more efficient meetings,
Adam Pierno 10:40
or even if they are, it doesn’t break down some mythical culture, because even if they’re a jerk, they’re still going in the same direction. They’re just doing it like a jerk, but they’re still getting my bad but we’re all trying to make accessible education like superior and better and improve it and build it right. I just do it like a jerk because that’s the way in – which This kind of reflects me as well. What – when you say really competitive for talent, you know, going after the best talent. That’s who that’s the place that you want to be as always in that competitive mode to get the best talent. What does that look like inside the organization? You know, how how are you vetting talent? How are you searching for talent? What makes you discard?
Jocelyn S. Lai 11:24
Yeah, so I would say it depends on each organization on what their operating values are, and how they measure success or a good candidate. At dualling go out base, everyone has to be an incredible expert at what they do. So if you’re a software engineer you your code is impeccable, the logic is impeccable. If you’re a designer, exact same if you’re in accounting exact same, so that’s a non negotiable to start with. On top of that, it’s what additional best practices are thinking do you bring and then do you truly believe in our product and those are things that we can That out, by the way, people code by the way people design by the way, people come up with marketing campaigns.
Adam Pierno 12:07
So you’re just you’re just trying to make sure from top to bottom. This is a person who is great at what they do, you know, flawless in their work their execution and believes in what we’re trying to do, whether you call it a mission, or they just call it the work product. They believe that it is worth investing the time and doing it right to do it.
Jocelyn S. Lai 12:23
Yeah. Yeah. And I would say, there are two things right now that are big motivators to anyone joining Duolingo right now. So the company will change over time. But right now, it’s someone who wants to come in and build incredible product, but also build an incredible company. And that is something that I don’t think everyone is interested in.
Adam Pierno 12:40
And it’s no those are, those are two different objectives as well. Right? Well, they’re good organization and building a singular product or suite of products are different skill sets, different mindsets, different everything. Yeah. But it would be Are you hiring different people to cover those different directions or is it the same people that have to understand both and be able to plug into both extremes when needed.
Jocelyn S. Lai 13:01
So it’s both. So we do have, for example, a business strategy and operations department where that’s their role. And then the leaders of each function, that’s also their role. But even if we’re hiring, for example, a new graphic designer, they have to be scalable. So we asked this question of like, are always I asked my question, are we looking for scalable people? Or are we trying to scale people? I think the former is always much easier to plug into a business, right? Because they just naturally know how to grow things. It’s like buying a seedling versus trying to grow something from from the seed itself.
Adam Pierno 13:37
How do people scale? What is a scalable person?
Jocelyn S. Lai 13:40
Sure. So to me, a scalable person is someone who a little cliche, but I think has that entrepreneurial spirit. They’re able to figure things out without someone telling them exactly how to do it, but not only figure things out in a hacky way, but like, actually define this is a great way that I think we should do it.
Adam Pierno 13:56
And then I realized that I love working with those people. Yeah,it’s Like, sit down and whiteboard it out or sketch it out and say I saw this problem I’ve never seen before. And here’s an approach. Let’s talk about if this is the best way to do it. Yep. Like, well, we don’t know how to do that. I guess we just all go home,
Jocelyn S. Lai 14:11
Right? Because there’s some work in some ways. We’re like people like meander in and out and they get the work done. But as they’re meandering, they’re creating a mess. Yeah, well, people are as they meander. They’re creating organization. There’s like a trail of organization behind them.
Adam Pierno 14:23
They are documenting and processes as they go. So that next time this will not be an issue, it’ll be solved.
Jocelyn S. Lai 14:28
Adam Pierno 14:33
And then I’ve never
Jocelyn S. Lai 14:34
Yeah, and this is something that’s been on my head for a very long time or four months. And then on the flip side, scaling people is and I know this is controversial, but there is this thought that you can find someone who has the basic skill sets and can grow them into the role.
Adam Pierno 14:54
That is that is a little controversial. Yeah.
Jocelyn S. Lai 14:56
So I think if it’s if the organization is at the right point, and Absolutely, that is doable. But right now where we are like 210 people, and we’re like, have created already have still information it can cause for a lot of confusion in roles.
Adam Pierno 15:15
I think it is possible in companies that are on that precipice of growth. small companies get into deep trouble when they try to scale people because you can’t hide people that create gaps in skills. Yep. In a small organization, but in a bigger one, there’s room there’s usually some overlap. So the gaps get covered up all the person figures their way out to grow into it.
Jocelyn S. Lai 15:39
Adam Pierno 15:40
Does this with the the idea of people who can scale and scalable people? Is this the same mindset that you had during the heyday at opening offices for RGA? And and working with Joe to build the recruiting process?
Jocelyn S. Lai 15:56
That is a great question I haven’t thought of
I ask great questions, Jocelyn!
I would say yes, but not to this extent, I don’t think it was nearly as well thought out because I didn’t have the right place to implement it. So ad agency side when I recruited for them is more recruiting based on gut. Whereas now it’s much more technical. It’s actually become more of a science than an art form. The recruiting itself or the skills, the recruiting itself.
Adam Pierno 16:25
Oh, tell me more about the science.
Jocelyn S. Lai 16:27
Yeah. So now it’s like, we always have a take home task, or an onsite task at the interview. So even if you’re interviewing for facilities assistant, there is a task on site. And part of Yeah, and part of that is that we can remove the bias. Because when I look back to ad agency world, there’s a lot like, Oh, they just seem like they’re really ambitious. Right. It’s a lot of seem and feel and believe, but it works for ad agency world to because it’s such a certainly Yeah, I will. I’m only sort of But I do also think people are probably a little bit more in tune with their emotional side and feelings and technical organization. True. Is it right? To be? Yeah, right? We’ll find out. Yes.
Adam Pierno 17:13
The take home tasks. So if it’s a developer, if it’s a software engineer, you give them code to assess, to clean up, you asked them to write a bridge between two pieces of code, kind of our long assignments, or is it a big deal?
Jocelyn S. Lai 17:26
Yeah. So it’s definitely along those lines. And I’m trying not to share the exact task either. But it is definitely like coding base for design. And we also test for that. Just to get a good baseline of what truly are they capable of? Because if I look back to it, agency world, a lot of creative recruiters are like, well, I’ve seen the same piece of work and 10 books. I don’t know what who’s actually doing what, right. So this is a way where we can truly vet that out. But it also wouldn’t be right if we only did that for design. So we do the task for every single function.
Adam Pierno 17:59
That’s Amazing. Yeah. job is to dream up the test the hiring manager, or do you have kind of a standard set?
Jocelyn S. Lai 18:05
Yeah. So it’s a partnership between the hiring manager and the TA team. So like one example, is, when we hired a facilities assistant, recently, it was, hey, we need someone to come in and help us organize the shit out of our office and make it shine. And so the task was walk around for 10 minutes and tell us what is our biggest opportunity for organization? What is our biggest inefficiency in the office space?
Adam Pierno 18:31
I wish that you would have called my wife. Like, if she walks to our house, she does this. Yeah. And like in that office, she would have done it.
Jocelyn S. Lai 18:39
And that’s how you find the people with the right race thinking and not just the right words in an interview.
Adam Pierno 18:44
So it’s not arduous. It’s just Hey, this is the job. This is a lot of what the job looks like. And this the kind of problem solving we need. Show us how you think. Yeah, very simple.
Jocelyn S. Lai 18:52
Yep. And it’s interesting because the candidates who are who like push back on it, we also realized they’re typically not the right fit anyway. Yeah, right. If you’re not willing to invest 10 extra minutes or an hour to do this, you probably don’t believe in the mission enough to try. Right? Or there’s a bit of an ego at play.
Adam Pierno 19:11
Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s that’s always an issue. Is the is the ego? Has that changed from agency world to and the heyday of digital agencies at their peak growth, you know, startup boom to today? Or is it still the same challenges in certain positions?
Because you have ego engineers, I’ve seen it.
Jocelyn S. Lai 19:34
Yeah, I would say Duolingo. And I’m not saying this. Just because I’m in recruitment is very magical of a place. People are incredibly good at what they do, but also incredibly kind. That’s the best. Yeah, I remember my first day on the job. I texted my mom and I said, This place is creepily nice. And I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop it. It’s still honeymoon phase for me. And I’m almost out One year.
Adam Pierno 20:01
Jocelyn S. Lai 20:01
Yeah. So I would say that is not the norm, though. The norm is there will always be challenging egos everywhere I go, the way I always look at it is those are problems to solve. They’re not barriers. They’re just things for us to solve. And once we understand how to solve that personality that actually it frees us up to continue to move up because as you move up in your career, you’re basically getting paid to deal with bigger and bigger egos. Yeah, rationalities. It’s it’s only good practice.
Adam Pierno 20:27
Do you have some kind of a personality tests that you go by to help match staff and help kind of get people to interrelate with each other?
Jocelyn S. Lai 20:35
Yeah, so we don’t do that. It’s more of just, we shouldn’t be able to work well with each other. But if we, let’s say there’s a team match, and it doesn’t work, we quickly make that change too. So we’re also very quick to admit fault. We don’t do any sort of scientific personality test.
Adam Pierno 20:52
Yeah, I’m always those are dubious to me, but if you believe in it, it’s like astrology. If you believe in it, yes, find a way to make it work for you. And I think That’s probably good.
Jocelyn S. Lai 21:01
Yeah. I don’t believe in it. Yeah, I think a lot of the personality tests come from lack of self awareness and feedback. I think if your organization does a really good job of training each other how to give and receive feedback and implement feedback, then personality tests are not necessary.
Adam Pierno 21:19
Now, when we were talking before we started, you got very excited when you started talking about new new graduates, let’s call freshly minted professionals, who are who are coming out of school. Yep. And they’ve sort of been they’ve been educated for sure. They’ve been soft, trained into a discipline, which they haven’t been, you know, really, I guess battle tested is the way to say it. And so they started an industry like advertising like marketing, and they get trampled or they get there. They’re just not there. They’re just not hardened to understand what is about to happen when they’re in the professional realm as opposed to student learning it and figuring it out. Talk to that a little bit about, you know, what, how you how you’ve worked at OU and some of the talks that you go.
Jocelyn S. Lai 22:11
Yeah. So I went to a career fair at OU I think this was like four years ago. And I was blown away by how wholesome and kind, all the students were, it was such a big relief from New York. And I was like, oh, my goodness, we need more of these people, these humans, this character and quality in the advertising world. But I also really don’t want them to go to New York and work on an ad agency, because they’ll just get eaten alive. Yes. And so that’s really what it’s, it’s that collision of those egos at speed, that intensity of the work.
Adam Pierno 22:48
And it’s not that because they’re new. It’s not because they’re young. It’s not because they’re naive. It’s just because they haven’t seen it before. Right. So it’s like, a tidal wave pushing them over.
Jocelyn S. Lai 22:56
Yep. So I think one is they haven’t seen it before. The second one is I think schools universities do students a disservice by painting a false reality. So I remember when I was in school, and I always thought every single meeting had to end with you asking for the business, because if you worked in advertising, you were always pitching business. Little did I know 90%? Was status meetings.
Adam Pierno 23:17
More than ninety
Jocelyn S. Lai 23:18
Right! So there’s also that piece of our professors always tell students like, Oh, yeah, if you go into the ad agency world is going to be amazing. You just have to complete these courses, get an A in it and go get an internship.
Adam Pierno 23:33
False. I wish it was true.
Jocelyn S. Lai 23:35
Technically, you probably don’t even need a degree to be able to get an internship.
Adam Pierno 23:40
And some of the best employers I ever had didn’t have degree, right. Really intuitively smart, good at what they did, knew how to move around, knew how to come up with ideas and how to talk about ideas. Yep. How to execute.
Jocelyn S. Lai 23:51
Yep, you know? Yeah. And so my course basically teaches students how to navigate and learn the street smarts of advertising. So what do you do when you have a terrible boss? Well, we’ll have that boss at some point. One thing that I talked about a lot is how do you quit? And when is it right to quit? Because I know the first time that I resigned, I did not resign the right way. Like it is still an embarrassing story to me,
Adam Pierno 24:14
Can you tell it?
Jocelyn S. Lai 24:16
I will save myself and many others.
Adam Pierno 24:18
Okay, fair enough, fair down the lesson. How do you know and we I’ve seen people come in and say, Well, I got a new job. So it’s Wednesday and Friday is going to be my last day. All right, you know, well, that’s not really ideal. And now the people that are on your team are going to be penalized for you doing that and not giving two weeks. Ultimately, is two weeks notice going to save anything. Is that enough time to find a replacement? No, but it’s just it’s a courtesy that keeps the door open for you to come back and get a positive reference from us. Yep. Two days is not enough. Yep.
Jocelyn S. Lai 24:52
And in addition to that, I think a lot of candidates or professionals aren’t aware that sometimes you give two weeks notice and you’re working on something confidential, and they asked you to leave in the moment. In that case, be ready. Yeah, if you’re not ready for it, you could take it very personally when it’s really just about business.
Adam Pierno 25:10
That’s right. But it’s it’s more about the education that you’re talking about is knowing the difference of, Okay, in this situation, you should give two weeks notice. Or maybe you should give three weeks notice. Or you should probably expect to be walked out as soon as you say, so have your stuff in a box. Yep. You know, clear your office or your cube before you give you notice, because they’re going to take you right out and take your key car.
Jocelyn S. Lai 25:29
Right, right. It’s teaching students how to anticipate these unknowns, because no one ever told me to start thinking about what happens if there’s sexual harassment at work, like, what would my stance be? I never thought I would ever have to think about that. And now that I look back, I’m like, I wish someone had told me that. Like, what do I do if my values don’t line up with the companies? Do I work for the company?
Adam Pierno 25:54
And how long do I tolerate this for I talk to somebody Exactly. Especially now so again, oh, 10 years, we’ve made a lot of progress in getting these things up to the surface where it’s a conversation that’s happening. We can talk about harassment, we can talk about kind of people being inappropriate. We can talk about racism, ageism, all these things that have been tucked away. So how does that impact the way that you’re looking at talent as they’re coming in? Is that conversation you’re having with the students? Is it conversation? Or is it just people more aware of it in general?
Jocelyn S. Lai 26:28
So it’s interesting when I talked to my students about this, in their minds, there is no concern. And I think it’s this whole thing of you don’t realize how real the real world can be until you enter it. So the way I see it is the best I can do for them is to at least just talk about the fact that these things will happen. And I give them assignments of like, let’s say this happened to you, what would you do what would be your reaction? So at least they’ve gone through the thought process versus if it’s happened, happening to them the first time on the job, and the last thing you want is for that to be the first time. They’re thinking about how to solve it.
Adam Pierno 27:04
So for professionals who are teaching students in engineering, software engineering, and marketing in advertising and design, what’s the biggest gap that you found? As you’ve been doing these talk?
Jocelyn S. Lai 27:20
I would say, yeah, it kind of depends on the function. I would say software engineering. The biggest piece is how do we be inclusive with women at work? So women in tech is a huge topic right now. I just got back from Grace Hopper. Not just got back October, I got back from Grace Hopper, which is the world’s largest gathering of women in technology. You go in there, you feel amazing, you’re empowered. But there’s actually a slight piece of it that bothers me a lot. Where there’s so many big tech companies going there now that you walk in, and as an objective individual going there for the first time I was like, Oh my goodness, everyone is looking at these women engineers as like objects, just like
Adam Pierno 28:02
The opposite kind of object,
Jocelyn S. Lai 28:04
right? In terms like I have 10 roles I need to fill, I guess.
Adam Pierno 28:07
Yeah, yeah, right. Right. Right. It’s like where you go to I hate to say this, but it’s like where you go to do your token shopping? They’re not like pinups, it’s like, oh, I need I, I’ve told my team, I’m going to commit to having at least 10% of my staff be female. So here we are. Yeah, that must be I have not been to that to that event or other events like it. And I have not had that thought. that’s a that’s a bummer that that, that you’ve got that feeling?
Jocelyn S. Lai 28:34
Yeah. And so the, this might be the optimist in me, but anytime I see those situations, like, I’m so grateful that I worked for a place where we don’t see women as like, Oh, we just need to hit a quota. Yeah, it’s more of like, let’s just hire amazing people and be open minded and inclusive. And through the technical tasks, we will the process itself will be able to determine if someone meets our bar and from there if our process is correct, and fair or We then should have a very equal gender ratio, right.
Adam Pierno 29:04
But it’s more at the top of the funnel that you have to do the work to make sure you have candidates who can be exact, objectively reviewed for skills of both genders of all races of all kinds of different backgrounds so that when you’re making a decision, it doesn’t feel like there’s pressure to hire one versus the other. Because there’s always a funnel of different types of people coming through exactly.
Jocelyn S. Lai 29:25
And so it does create down the line more work for the recruitment team, but it’s worth it at the end. But I would say that’s the biggest piece for anyone who’s in like a mentoring teaching type role for engineers, for everything else. So marketing, Product Management, design, strategy, I would say the biggest piece that I have seen decline in terms of student ability is the ability to self problem solve. And I really think this is because we are becoming like an instant gratification, more and more type of a society where if we have our problems Our technology can solve versus us being the technology to solve is it? Is it?
Adam Pierno 30:05
Are you saying that because we’re so specialized, if it’s a if it’s a problem for a designer outside of design, we can solve it or just in general people don’t. They kind of shut down when they get to a point they haven’t seen before.
Jocelyn S. Lai 30:16
The latter. So it’s less about, like designing or coming up with a brief it’s more of if I’ve come across something that I’ve never seen before, I don’t know what to do. I should ask my neighbor first. Or maybe I should ask my boss first. Or let me just ask my professor. How do I get an A in this course? Like, well, that’s actually not the purpose.
Adam Pierno 30:37
Yeah, don’t do that. You hear the slack. The Slack sound effects start clacking.
Jocelyn S. Lai 30:42
Yeah, but I hear a lot from students increasingly so every single semester. If I need it in a in this class, what do I need to do to get an A, and it’s like one, you need to earn an A, and two, I’m not going to tell you how to get the A you need to figure out how Your own because it’s very clear.
Adam Pierno 31:03
And you don’t need the A, you need the knowledge that you need to figure out what it is you want to walk away from this course with. And if you gather all that information and knowledge and you absorb it, you will earn the A.
Jocelyn S. Lai 31:16
Yeah, that’s a really good point I asked, I think we’re coming in a little bit too. We value like the clinical badges of our resume or our experiences too much versus the experience itself. So someone could have less experience but be able to make a lot from it. Instead, we just hoard all these internships and labeled and we’re like, here I am. I have 10 internships hire me but really the 10 internships we haven’t done much with.
Adam Pierno 31:39
Right? That’s not exclusive to to new grads, either. I mean, I think that’s true of people, people my age too – LinkedIn has gamified just like every other social platform, like look, I took these 10 LinkedIn Learning courses. So now I should be, you know, able to move up a rung in the ladder. I don’t know if watch 10 videos earned you the next time. And it’s better than not doing it.
Jocelyn S. Lai 32:05
Yeah. And that’s also why I think like in the recruiting process, the more and more technical and vetting it is, the better because then we can see through all that.
Adam Pierno 32:15
That’s awesome. Well, Jocelyn, this has been fantastic. I know it’s it’s getting late there. And I would imagine the caffeine starting to wear off.
Jocelyn S. Lai 32:22
Adam Pierno 32:25
I’m gonna let you go. Where can people find you online?
Adam Pierno 32:37
Oh, perfect. Perfect. I will add those links to the show notes for sure. And it has been wonderful chatting with you again. It’s been a long time.
Jocelyn S. Lai 32:44
Yeah. Good to see you. Finally. Yeah. Thanks for having me again.
Adam Pierno 32:48
All right. And I’ll look forward to seeing you if you make it out to my neck of the woods.
Jocelyn S. Lai 33:57
All right. See you Adam
Transcribed by https://otter.ai