The Commons Digest (08/10/2022)

The COmmons Insider Newsletter

The Commons Weekly Digest

Welcome to our Weekly Digest. Think of it like a TL;DR of the massive group chat that happens in The Commons community every day.

In this week's issue:

  • Meet Dipti! A Core Sprint alum who pivoted from CPG (PepsiCo) to DoorDash 🛒
  • Events & Sprints at The Commons: Our Summer '22 Product & BizOps Sprints are officially in session! Revenue Growth & Strategic Finance applications are open for September
  • Your Weekly Level Up
  • ✏️ Practice Interview Question: Cases!
  • ✅ Community Reccos: Honing your SQL skills after the Core Sprint
  • 💭 Thought Starter: Staying motivated during your job search
  • 💡 Brain Teaser
  • 🚀 Resources: Check out Shafaq's portfolio!


A conversation with Dipti, Strategy & Operations (BizOps) Sprint alum and now New Verticals at DoorDash, on her journey from banking to CPG to tech and what she learned along the way

Dipti is a great example of someone who has been thoughtful about her career moves, as she focused on the learning and growth opportunities rather than specific titles. This led her to shift from banking to CPG to an exciting role in tech (New Verticals at DoorDash).

Here are the highlights of our chat with her ⬇️ You can find the full spotlight here.
PS if you were looking for Thiago's spotlight from last week, it's now live here.

Hey Dipti! What's your current role & location?

📍Engagement Associate at DoorDash on the New Verticals team. I'm based out of Toronto.

How would you would compare your experience working in banking, CPG and tech?

Through university, I did finance-focused internships in banking. While everything at the bank was very numbers heavy, I didn't see my direct impact on the broader marketplace.

Contrasting to PepsiCo, which is where I landed my first role after I graduated, I saw how the work I was doing - like building models - was translating into campaigns or into how we were pricing our products on the shelves. Seeing that direct impact onto the actual marketplace was huge for me. My role at PepsiCo was a Brand Finance Analyst where I focused on finance and strategy. I gained a lot of experience diving into numbers, financial models, and really built my analytical skills. That was a really crucial experience for getting a better understanding of the retail and the CPG space.

Tech, and particularly DoorDash, is extremely fast paced. There's so much work going on and being able to prioritize is crucial. A lot of the things I was working on in my previous role I would classify as “nice-to-haves”, but in a startup, you need to constantly be working on projects that are providing the most value to the company. Secondly, in larger CPG companies, you’ll typically have someone telling you exactly what to be working on, but in tech, you’ll likely have more autonomy over what you’re working on. This is great, but also comes with a lot of responsibility. The fact that it's really interesting, challenging work keeps me motivated even though I'm not necessarily being told what to do by a manager.

In my previous role, it was a lot of: "Hey, we need to do this. We need to do that". Now, it's: “this is the vision for our vertical - go make it happen”.

With this working style, a lot of the work is actually created by myself, which is something that I don't think most people in traditional industries are used to. I think that's what keeps me motivated; I feel challenged but also empowered to go out and do things.

So I would say that the big difference is the speed at which we move, as well as the way in which work is created and delegated.

How did your experience in CPG prepare you for a career in tech?
Getting familiarized with the retail space was a huge plus in joining DoorDash, especially since I was joining the New Verticals team. We work very closely with the largest grocery and convenience and other retail partners across the country, so having that familiarity with the space in general, knowing the brands, knowing how to get a product on shelves, and knowing how a retailer thinks about selling products was something that really helped me.

The other piece I would say is coming from the CPG space, you understand all the different functions of a CPG organization and the supply chain in general. So working with merchants now, when they talk about price inflation, or they talk about certain costs rising, or they talk about shortages, I understand because I dealt with that previously.

Lastly, skills like working with different folks, being well spoken, communicating, and being analytical are things that are developed when you work in CPG and are valuable across industries within tech. Given these skills, I think that people with backgrounds in CPG are well-served to get into tech companies - whether they’re retail focused or not.

What experiences or skills did you gain from your Strategy & Operations (BizOps) Sprint with The Commons that you were able to leverage in your pivot into tech?
Marketplace Industry Knowledge: Since the project in the Strategy & Operations (BizOps) Sprint focuses on a three-sided marketplace, the work that we were doing was actually very practical for helping me understand the three-sided marketplace at DoorDash. It helped me understand the differences and also the similarities between a Dasher (driver), a consumer, and the merchant: all the different stakeholders that make up our business and how you have to consider all of them when making decisions.

Mentorship: Coming from an external industry, you're not as familiar with the way in which you should structure the problem and how you should communicate your solution. So guidance from my mentor and the workshops really helped me out. Callum was also really candid and transparent with me about tech roles, recruiting, and helped me understand the skills that are necessary to succeed in this industry.

Delegation: By working with a team during the Sprint, I got a really good understanding of how to best delegate work based on people's skills... I learned a lot about the best way to approach teamwork within a short amount of time.

Slack Discussions: The Commons Slack community played such a big role in my pivot. There are a bunch of different channels in the Slack community that you can tap into for support: there’s a channel for people to post roles at their company, there's a channel to discuss interview prep, there's a channel to ask the community for advice about whatever career challenges you might be facing.

The Community: The people in the community are so helpful as well. One of the most critical elements was just how willing everyone was to set up time and just chat. A lot of time you can reach out to people through LinkedIn, but having a common community and knowing that people are all here to further their careers definitely helps in getting the direct advice that you need. When you’re a part of this community you feel like you're not asking for too much and you're not wasting anyone's time. Everyone is here for one reason and that's to help elevate each other's careers.

Last question: now that you work in tech, what’s the number one piece of advice you give to other community members when they reach out for help with their own pivots?

When you're recruiting it's very easy to get caught up in a particular role or particular position. My biggest piece of advice is: don't get too attached to a particular role. Keep in mind the goal of why you're recruiting in the first place. For me, it was that I'm still learning and any role that allows me to learn something beyond finance, beyond analytics is a win for me.

Not to be too cheesy but I also just want to add that even though I joined the Strategy & Operations Sprint and successfully pivoted into tech, the journey doesn't stop here. I truly believe that there's still so much I want to learn at DoorDash and within tech. So I continue to post things in the #community-advice Slack channel or the #great-reads channel because I want to learn and to continue to discern what's next for me in my career. I think your pivot into tech doesn't necessarily end. I think it continues to spiral into other levels. Even if you do get the role you're looking for, it doesn't necessarily mean you stop. Industries will continue to evolve. New industries will continue to pop up. And so that's the key piece that I think being a part of this community really helps with. The Commons is all about learning and developing the skills required for any new industry or any new sort of work experience or professional experience you're looking for.

...check out the full post here!

➡️ Recently landed a role in tech and want to keep leveling up with The Commons? Join one of our Sprints (below) and unlock the benefits of the full community.

🪂 What's happening at The Commons

Upcoming events at The Commons:

  • Company Showcase: Spotify with Daniel, Sr. Product Manager at Spotify | Wednesday, August 10 @ 7PM | Community only - spots are filled, but keep your eye out in #general for more events like this
  • San Franscico IRL Meetup | Thursday, August 11 @ 6PM PT | Community + friends only, sign up here
  • Mini Interview Case Workshop | Sunday, August 14 @ 11AM ET | Community, sign up here + non-Community, request a seat here

Recent past events - community members, you can access the recordings on the platform:

  • Speaker Series with Amanda Swim, Director of BizOps at ZenDesk
  • Async Resume Review
  • Vancouver IRL Meetup

🚨 Application Deadline Alert! 🚨

We're currently reviewing applications for the following Sprints:

  • 🚀 Core - The summer cohort is officially closed. Secure your seat in advance for the September or October cohorts (here). You'll unlock your access to the community as soon as you enrol (even ahead of your Sprint!)
  • 🖥 Product - The summer cohort is officially closed. Stay tuned for the October Sprint drop.


What the community is talking about...

Discussions in The Commons are prolific. Here’s a top one from this past week: to abide by or to not abide by take-home case time constraints. 🤔

Prompt: Is it common practice to disregard the time restraints for take home assignments during the job search? I have been doing my best to strictly adhere to the time allotted and feel like I may be handicapping myself.

Community Responses: The community broke this one down into two aspects: a) the time constraints to submit the assignment back to the recruiter (i.e. submit it back within 2 business days) and b) the recommended time for the assignment (i.e. the company recommends spending only 4 hours on it).

Part A: The time constraints to submit the assignment back to the recruiter

Bilal: "...I try to stick to the time restraints for take home assignments. Ideally I'd pick a weekend and free up my calendar to work on it. If I can't turn it around for any reason, I'd let the recruiter know ASAP (+ points for proactive communication/project management). With all that said, it's usually not a big deal if you're late by a little bit."

Part B: The recommended time for the assignment
Since this one was controversial, we'll keep responses anonymous, but you can always head to the full thread to see who said what 😉

Perspective 1: "Do it in the time provided. If there are multiple candidates, I've usually seen all are given the same time constraints on these things, so if you are given more time to stand out, that's unfair to the others that may be going through the process."

"If you’re finding you need to go over the time constraints often, you might also be doing more than what you’re interviewers are expecting, which isn’t always a good thing. There’s usually going to be some level of analysis / deliverable creation that you should be capable of completing in the time. Most of the time I don’t think you’re going to get a lot of “bonus” points for going more in depth than what the interviewer was looking for. Also, communication is incredibly important in an interview - I’ve seen a lot of people do poorly because they overcomplicated an analysis and then struggled to give a clear, succinct recommendation / story. Personally, if I see that someone did way more than I asked for, I start worrying about their ability to prioritize."

Perspective 2:
"A lot of employers will say 'we expect this to take up to 4 hours …'. Such BS."

"I think I would spend more time, provided I can keep a clear and succinct "so what". Like [the above poster] mentioned, a lot of those times that aren't a due date are quite unrealistic."

"Based on my experience, I submit it on the deadline day (if they say 2 days, take 2 days). However, take as long as you need to get ready. For one case, they suggested I take 5 hours. I took closer to 10 and don't think it was possible to do it faster. They loved my output and told me that's exactly what they were looking for. When they asked how long I spent and I said two full evenings, they were impressed it only took me that long. Their expectation vs what they suggested was completely misaligned. I'd rather have over-prepped than not done enough and lose the opportunity"

Missed the discussion? Community members, hop into Slack (below) to weigh in on the debate.

Join the discussion

Your weekly level up ⏫

✏️ Practice Interview Question

Type: Case
Question: Varies by case assignment
What They're Testing For: Generally they're evaluating your problem solving, business acumen, presentation and communication skills.

🌟Tips: Join Rohan's case workshop this weekend 😉

➡️ Sunday, August 14 @ 11AM ET | Community, sign up here | Non-Community, request a seat here

✅ Community Reccos

This week we're talking SQL! 👨💻 If you're one of the members of The Commons who wants to keep up with SQL after your Core Sprint ends, here's some advice:

Redash - you'll still have access to Redash so you can play around with the Juniper database and queries, even post-Sprint

SQL Murder Mystery - a fun game to refresh your memory on simple JOINS - thanks Laura!
Schemaverse - Loren
HackerRank - Loren, and as Sean added: "If it's not a game or work, I feel like you don't learn from it"
Kaggle - has free online databases to play around with (thanks Mike!)
Datacamp or Codeacademy - for more practice problems to dive into (also Mike!)
Scratchsearch or Interviewquery - for interview practice (thanks Kelman!)

Bonus: Haven't joined the Core Sprint yet? You'll not only dive into SQL and analysis, but you'll learn to leverage those skillsets to deliver critical business insights. Apply to our Core Sprint - the next cohort kicks off in late-September, but you'll be able to join the community as soon as you enrol. Apply here.

💭Thought Starter

Often community members are tackling similar things - like a job search. We love seeing community members rally together and provide each other with practical advice and support. Add your thoughts to this post and we'll share out the summary next week 👇💚

🧠 Brain Teaser

Four investment bankers need to cross a bridge at night to get to a meeting. They have only one flashlight and 17 minutes to get there. The bridge must be crossed with the flashlight and can only support two bankers at a time.The Analyst can cross in one minute, the Associate can cross in two minutes, the VP can cross in five minutes, and the MD takes 10 minutes to cross.How can they all make it to the meeting in time?Check here for the answer!

💡 Community Share

The Commons community is filled with tidbits of advice and interesting shares. In case you missed it, here's a popular share from last week 👇

Take a look at Shafaq's portfolio and provide advice HERE.

Thanks for leveling up with us!

If you want to chat about The Commons, text us at +1-416-619-9042 or jump on a call HERE.

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